Actionable Steps for Achieving True Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity is a given at work—the real question is how it’s managed.

Greg Frankson
Dec 23, 2020 · 6 min read

An approach that focuses on equity in conjunction with access takes a more comprehensive pathway to diversity and inclusion

You may think there’s a lot of sound and fury on diversity and inclusion (D&I), and that the problems are being overhyped and overblown. However, companies are being judged right now on how well and how quickly they respond. The environment cares nothing for Doubting Thomases. Action is being demanded of your company while your competitors are heeding the call.

You don’t need to ‘create’ diversity at work

In 2020, corporate entities and not-for-profit organizations across North America became painfully aware that, generally speaking, they were doing a questionable job of accurately reflecting their communities in their workforces. Though some had previously made at least token efforts at addressing diversity and inclusion, the imperative to get on the right side of the issue ramped up significantly after the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd.

Do you have the resources you need to create and execute a comprehensive company-wide plan?

Leaders have finally come to understand that their companies already have tremendous diversity in their personnel. How workers define their identity is as unique to each of them as their fingerprints. For example, a team made up entirely of people of the same race will have people of different genders, gender identities, family statuses, physical and mental abilities, ethnicities, religions, etc. in the group.

Diversity is a state of being. Inclusion is about being in the best state.

Many people confuse diversity and inclusion or consider the two terms to be interchangeable. This is a serious error that will cause problems down the road unless you can distinguish between them and act accordingly.

While diversity is a given at work, inclusion is something that companies have to work hard at fostering and preserving in their workplaces.

To do this, four critical functional elements for providing an inclusive work environment must be addressed:

  • Leadership: Supervisory interpersonal conduct, clarity of mission, effectiveness of meetings, openness to feedback, performance evaluation, managing expectations, mentorship, coaching, etc.;
  • Culture: Work-life balance, employee social engagement and interactivity, worker benefits packages, team-building activities, on-site amenities, team cohesion, respectful communication between peers, etc.; and
  • Talent: Recruitment methods, retention strategy, compensation, opportunities for promotion, succession planning, continuing education support, training, secondments, upskilling, etc.
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Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Equity becomes possible only when access is prioritized for everyone

The journey from recognizing and valuing diversity to creating and maintaining a truly inclusive workplace is paved by access.

How workers define their identity is as unique to each of them as their fingerprints

Your accessibility policies should take into consideration a wide range of challenges, such as sensory deficits (i.e. with hearing or sight), mental health, and auditory/visual processing challenges, in addition to physical mobility, manipulation, and ergonomics.

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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Final considerations

An approach that focuses on equity in conjunction with access takes a more comprehensive pathway to diversity and inclusion. Put another way, a company’s operations, leadership, culture and talent mesh best when inclusion of internal diversity is attained using an equity lens informed by the principles of accessibility.

  • Take a closer look at how you manage your talent acquisition and retention. Have you developed any blind spots? Are you operating on assumptions about your people that may not be true? What can your team tell you about the attractiveness of your workplace to prospective hires?
  • Examine the cultural dynamics in your workplace between peer groups and across the full spectrum of responsibility, from the CEO down to entry level. Are there areas of friction? How can you enlist your people to help you improve? What can you learn from what’s going right that can be more broadly implemented in other areas of the company?
  • How do you manage inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility? Do you have a unified approach or are various aspects managed by different people, or even by different departments? Do you have the resources you need to create and execute a comprehensive company-wide plan?

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Greg Frankson

Written by

Poet, Educator, Social Commentator & Speaker • Presenting the vision that inspires others to positively change the world • raiseyourvoice[at]voiceshareinc.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

Greg Frankson

Written by

Poet, Educator, Social Commentator & Speaker • Presenting the vision that inspires others to positively change the world • raiseyourvoice[at]voiceshareinc.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +773K people. Follow to join our community.

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