By Danniella Banks
Race. Gender. These are the two statistics that people dwell upon when they think about diversity, however, for those who truly understand what diversity is know that there are many more components than just those two pieces.
I have to admit that up until I applied for my position at The Society for Diversity, I also believed that diversity was all about the ratio of men to women and whites to other ethnicities. However as I started looking more into the field and this organization, I realized how truly wrong I was. There are many more factors that are involved. Religious affiliation, level of education, relationship status, and living with a disability are just a few of the other pieces to the puzzle that relate to the diversity of an organization.
On top of all the things previously mentioned, there is also another piece of the diversity pie: inclusion. Without inclusion in an organization, then diversity cannot work to help an organization become the best. You not only have to have people from various backgrounds, but you also have to make them feel as though they belong and are understood.
Here’s an analogy that I’ve heard several times in regard to diversity and inclusion that I think sums things up very well:
When making your own chocolate milk, you pour the syrup in to a glass of milk. However, this is not really chocolate milk until you stir it up. The cup of white milk with a little bit of chocolate sitting at the bottom is how many executives see diversity. As long as the chocolate is present, they have diversity. However, in order for the diversity to really work, and for the milk to be chocolate, you have to mix everything together so that everyone is working cohesively together.
Instead of focusing on creating diversity in your organization, think in terms of how diversity may already be present. Yes, your organization may need to try to recruit more people from other races or more women, but that can’t happen overnight. If you have the programs in place to make your workforce more inclusive, then as you are able to add employees from demographics that are currently lacking, you can help to guarantee that they will feel needed, therefore stay at the organization longer.
Diversity is all about looking at things from a different perspective, such as not just focusing on gender and race and realizing that there are many more pieces to the puzzle.