No one would ever say that Diversity and Inclusion isn’t important. No one would ever say that they aren’t trying to have a more diverse and inclusive workplace. And yet, we still have issues with both diversity and inclusion.

Organizations that are not diverse will not perform as well as those that are. Diversity brings to the table the ability to innovate. Without a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, organizations will find themselves stuck in the same routine implementing the same ideas. Fortunately, in the past decades we have definitely improved in our ability to hire a more diverse workforce. The workplace of today does not look like the workplace of 20 years ago. But while we are moving in the right direction with diversity (and there’s a lot of work to be done), we still struggle with inclusion.

The reason diversity and inclusion are paired together is because one without the other is largely ineffective. If we are hiring a diverse workforce simply to check an HR box, then we missing a huge opportunity to add value to our organization. We must hire a diverse workforce AND ensure that everyone feels included. Without inclusion we don’t get to draw on the benefits of diversity. If we have a diverse workplace but all the decision makers have the same background, then our efforts fall short. If we want an organization that leads the industry in innovation and progress, then we have to make sure that everyone in the organization feels included. Only with inclusion do people feel empowered to suggest new ideas and have the platform on which to do so.

If it’s such a great thing, why isn’t everyone doing it?

In a recent podcast with Tayo Rockson, diversity and inclusion consultant and author of Use Your Difference to Make a Difference, spoke to the idea of intentionality as a huge barrier to progress in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplaces. He detailed that organizations can’t simply decide to be diverse and inclusive. Not being against diversity and inclusion (while obviously a good start) is simply not enough to affect real change. Organizations must be consciously intentional about how they are going to facilitate inclusion and promote a diverse workplace. It doesn’t just happen. To hear the rest of the podcast go to Forging Employee Experience. To connect with Tayo, reach out to him via LinkedIn or through his website and don’t forget to pre-order his book!

Diversity and inclusion is a huge opportunity to help an organization grow. It is a competitive advantage that will absolutely help companies outpace their competition. But to seize that advantage, organizations must be deliberate and intentional about how they implement.