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How Diversity and Inclusion Have Changed

A few years ago, we talked about diversity and inclusion efforts “then” and “now.” That discussion serves as a useful starting point to understand how inclusion has moved from an optional to an urgent business need. Here we’ll summarize where we’re at from a “then” and “until now” perspective.

Then: It Was About Counting People

Quotas. For years, organizations and their HR people focused on having a certain percentage of minority employees on staff, generally relative to the percentage of minority people within their recruitment area. They counted and reported on the numbers. A start. But a feeble one.

Until Now: It Was About Including People

We’ve been fighting the good fight for inclusion for 19 years now, working with companies to convince them of why inclusion is so critical to business success and teaching them how to build inclusive cultures. We’ve made some progress. Clearly not enough. The anger of Black Americans is real, relevant, and raging—for good reason.

Then: It Was About Command and Control

In the old business model leaders told people what to do. It was a top-down world where everybody knew their place and few dared to challenge that oppressive status quo. But that was then.

Until Now: It’s Been About Engagement

There are good leaders out there and they’ve worked hard to engage employees. But it’s clear they still haven’t done enough.

Then: Your Employees and Your Customers Looked Like You

Look at company photos from days gone by and you’re likely to be struck by the sameness of the individuals in these photos. In most cases, the white male majority dominated.

Then: Business Was Local

In days gone by, people did business locally. They shopped at the corner store. They frequented the “mom and pop” restaurants. In the 1960s, if you asked 100 people from around the world where cars were made, they’d likely say “the United States.” We were a U.S.-centric economy.

Until Now: Business Was Global, But is Pulling Back in an America-first Environment

Despite the significant progress that had been made over the past several years toward more inclusive trade around the globe, today we’re seeing that open trade clamped down as the country, and its current administration, take a nationalism approach to trade.

Recommended Reading


Are you tired of workplace diversity training that does not link to business? Are you tired of tactics that don’t drive business results? InclusionINC has inclusion training solutions and strategic consulting that link inclusion to employee engagement, productivity, innovation and retention, moving inclusion beyond tactics to a critical business strategy.

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