As Human Resources Professionals, we often address the topic of diversity and inclusion from the perspective of recruiting, on-boarding and retaining a diverse workforce. A diverse workforce is no longer the square box that can be checked off by hiring employees across different genders, races and/or age groups. Diversity is now defined much broader than that and thus, requires more attention from employers and us as HR professionals.
While we are striving to address the topic of diversity, we sometimes forget about inclusion. Inclusivity needs our attention and it needs it now. Is there an official program in your workplace treated just like your official diversity program; or, is it masked to appear as old-fashioned “office politics?” Are people around you defining the “complaint” or “treated unfairly” as if it is that individual’s fault? Are they claiming the employee “doesn’t fit into our culture” or “they were a bad hire” because ultimately they want to recruit the type of employee that already exists?
Given these scenarios are still too common in today’s workforce, I ask everyone to look deeper into how inclusion is defined within your organization. If you don’t have an official inclusion program to balance your diversity program, then ask yourself how you plan to retain the team members you worked so hard to recruit. Once you recruit for diversity, ask yourself what you are doing to ensure that they stay.
At the end of the day, we shouldn’t feel slighted as people or professionals. Each and every person has a talent or skill that can assist our organizations in being successful. Are we really focused on that success or are we actually being destructive? Why are we so fearful about something or someone that is different?
Office politics, storytelling, lies and collusion should be something we read about in old books, not in current news. This is a new age and a new time – why do these issues still exist? As HR professionals, we can no longer worry about being just a peace maker or being the boat that makes no waves. Now more than ever, we must have the courage to be a game changer – use your position to enact positive change! We can no longer accept or allow for exclusiveness, there is no room in our world for this. Just as our workforce has become more diverse, so has the human resources profession. If we are to be strategists and leaders, then let’s start by addressing inclusion and all that it entails.
Respect each other, be open to each other’s thoughts and ideas, connect with those who are very different from ourselves and encourage others to do the same. Only then can we truly harness the magic of diversity. By acknowledging and accepting diversity, and then creating an environment that offers support and openness for this diverse talent to grow and prosper around us, we can then harness the unique collaboration that creates something magical, intangible and special in our workplace, in the people we work for and within ourselves.
This goes above and beyond professionalism and courtesy. We must lift each other up (remember, we’re on the same team), be thoughtful, be strong and, above all else, be kind!
There is no longer time, patience or room for cultures that create exclusion and collusion – these things are simply unacceptable. Stand up and speak up for inclusion every single day – we have the power to do just that, so let’s use it for good.
Lynnette Holsinger, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, GPHR