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Building an Inclusive Workplace is a Responsibility for All of Us

Increasingly, companies are seeing the true business value of diversity and inclusion efforts. These aren’t simply feel-good initiatives designed to get some positive press. Meaningful diversity—and, particularly, inclusion—have a real impact on the bottom line of companies. Diverse companies understand diverse markets better, they are more creative and they simply outperform less diverse organizations.

Formalizing D&I

The increased focus on D&I means that many companies are hiring staff whose primary responsibility is promoting D&I. For example, roughly half of all S&P 500 companies employee a chief diversity officer. But many companies don’t go quite so far and instead task existing employees with diversity and inclusion initiatives. The irony of these regimes is the additional burden they place on the very groups they are designed to support.

The Black Lives Matter movement has caused companies around the world to focus, or refocus, efforts to build diverse workforces and inclusive cultures. That can be a double-edged sword, though, as Sheryl Nance-Nash points out in an article for BBC Worklife: “People of colour are often tasked with this heavy lift while juggling their usual duties amid the coronavirus crisis – and not being offered additional compensation for the work. The burden also carries a high emotional price tag.”

I&D Responsibility Belongs to Us All

There’s really no reason diversity and inclusion efforts must be the sole responsibility of women and people of color. In fact, it is cringe-worthy to imagine a manager singling out only people of color for this.

In a survey conducted by Glassdoor, a majority of white workers said a diverse workplace was important to them. The numbers were even higher for traditionally marginalized groups: 72% of women (v. 62% of men), 89% of African Americans, 80% of Asians, and 70% of Latinos ranked workforce diversity as important in their job search. But the fact that over half of white workers value diversity as well is by itself a strong argument to include them in the work of promoting that diversity.

A diversity and inclusion task force made up only of people of color is an inherent contradiction.

As we’ve said for years, inclusion means including everyone, not just women and people of color. Everyone in an organization stands to gain from a more diverse and inclusive workforce. In fact—and this is certainly heartening—the majority of all groups of employees value diversity and inclusion.

It’s critical that we all shoulder the responsibility of supporting inclusion and building inclusive workplaces.

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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