Good intentions can be the greatest motivation to start a new initiative. But sometimes plans fail to reach implementation because of misguided information. Diversity and inclusion are among those initiatives that I often hear that organizations lack due to myths and excuses. Consider these four points below which are designed to debunk the myths and illuminate the excuses that many organizations often are faced with.
- EXCUSE: My organization is too busy to focus on diversity and inclusion; therefore we will leverage the outcomes that occur organically. I often hear organizational leaders express that they readily “invite diversity into its culture.” But we do not have to “invite” diversity. Diversity is already here. We must, however, be intentional about welcoming and cultivating inclusion, because inclusion does not happen organically. Intentionality is incredibly important to the work of inclusion because it requires leveraging diversity to accomplish the organization’s mission. Recognizing that diversity already exists, the question becomes what we each will do about it to allow businesses to grow and people to prosper.
- MYTH: There’s no true value to the bottom line of diversity and inclusion. Organizational leaders must believe that positive outcomes can occur with strategic diversity and inclusion practices integrated into the operations of an organization. Recognize that diversity is more than a moral challenge. It’s a bottom-line business imperative. Always align the reason for diversity and inclusion to a business case and be less concerned with trying to awaken people’s social consciousness regarding diversity. An effective diversity and inclusion strategy begins with believing that the outcomes are worth it. In order to believe in the results, one must first become educated on the benefits.
- EXCUSE: My organization doesn’t know how to manage diversity and inclusion effectively. One frequent reason organizations cite for not operating in the space of diversity and inclusion is that they simply do not know how to manage and implement a diversity and inclusion initiative. I do not doubt this to be the case, but I also know that what an organization values is what they pursue and dedicate resources to. There are several resources available to organizations interested in integrating diversity and inclusion within their companies. If you do not know how, consider the thousands of resources available through textbooks, white papers, webinars, consultants, conferences, etc. In short, an organization not engaging in diversity and inclusion practices because it does not know how is simply using an excuse to not get started. My challenge to all organizations is to throw out the excuse of not knowing how and invest the time and energy necessary to learn how. It is just that important, especially given the shift in demographics that will create a society where there is no such thing as racial majority.
- MYTH: Only large corporations with big budgets should be concerned with diversity and inclusion. The notion that you need to be a large company with hundreds of employees, a massive budget and a seasoned diversity practitioner on staff in order to implement a successful diversity and inclusion initiative is far from the truth. Positive intent and a willing champion is all that’s needed to create a jumping-off point to establish a positive trajectory in the area of workplace inclusion. Every organization had to start somewhere. Don’t be the organization that waits until all major milestones have been met before considering the value of diversity and inclusion.
Don’t let a myth or excuse keep your company from joining the ranks of successful organizations that are committed to diversity and inclusion and are reaping the benefits.