Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity and inclusion, two peculiar aspects that can play a huge role in the workplace no matter where you are. Let’s break it down! According to Ferris State University, “Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs” (Diversity and Inclusion Definitions, 1). Diversity is based upon a various of things. Inclusion on the other hand is different. Ferris University stated, “Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized” (Diversity and Inclusion Definitions, 2). Although diversity and inclusion often get confused, I will show you societies outlook on diversity and inclusion, how impactful both diversity and inclusion is inside and out of the workplace and what diversity and inclusion brings to the work place.

Growing up in a military area like Hampton Roads, Virginia you never really think of diversity and inclusion. Due to the military and tourism the different types of people that are always around it seem normal. Not many people are quick to point out differences when it is not necessary. It becomes second nature to be comfortable with people that are not like yourself. It was not until I arrived here at Radford University, at the age 18, that I realized not everyone is as comfortable as I am.

Though an interview with one of my lab mates, who preferred not to be named in this essay, I discovered that she was unsure and even uneasy about approaching me. I could not wrap my head around it. Why? Did she have prejudice? Had I intimidated her? All these questions I asked her. None of which were true. She just simply was not used to working with people unlike herself. After hearing this I decided to dive into the advantages of working in diverse groups, in hopes of proving that diversity and inclusion does make a positive change.

Diversity and inclusion, two misinformed concepts that everyone should be aware of.  Ferdman Bernardo the author of “Diversity At Work: The Practice of Inclusion” published a book in San Francisco, California. Bernardo analyzed diversity and inclusion in a peculiar way. He started his book acknowledging diversity and inclusion gets praised by society on a daily basis. Bernardo stated, “With this impressive volume fills an important gap in the diversity and inclusion literature by bringing together research and practice” (Bernardo, 2014, 2). This statement indicates so much positivity from members of society. If there is a company that fully supports diversity and inclusion, society will contribute and show support in any way shape or form. Acknowledging this idea society has, he then proceeded to speak about the struggles diversity and inclusion comes with, to demonstrate he is not being bias towards the overall idea. Providing these two counter arguments in my eyes establishes a good credibility simply because, Ferdman lacks favoritism, while informing us about diversity and inclusion. After Bernado’s reading it was easy to see of the first thing diversity could bring to the workplace. Support and impact! With diversity comes major support from many different audiences. In the state of the world we live in today, everyone loves a diverse environment. There’s been and ongoing uproar of variations of people fighting for inclusion. It has almost become trendy to have the diverse group. At this moment anyone would love to root for and support an inclusive company.  Diversity and inclusion go hand and hand when impacting a workplace. The company Accenture produced a video named “Inclusion Starts With I”. The video received over 503,637 views which proves how impactful it was.

As the video goes on you begin to see individuals of society with posters, incorporating their opinion while responding to the statement” Inclusion starts with I…”. The first statement I am going to take from the poster is “It is the frustration of asserting my opinion in a work place, only to be labeled as aggressive or angry” (Accenture, 2017). Accenture, a well-known company incorporated this one for a reason. The idea that an African American man, unable to share his opinion within the workplace is harsh. And if he does, individuals will refer back to the stereotypical worlds view of an African American man: loud, aggressive, and angry. Labeling will be done on any race, but this is just one example. The choreographer made the choice of repetitively having opinions of different people. The reason is to reiterate that everyone is impacted whether they take the thought home or leave it at work. It showed how diversity affects an individual. Although “the individual” does not seem like a major piece, it is the backbone of the company of group. The company is the machine and the individuals are the parts of the machine. One hiccup in the parts could cause the whole machine to crash. The hiccup is analogous to an insensitive comment and/or any form of bullying. Diversity and inclusion training could save said company and/or group the trouble.

Janet Stovall, A single minded African American chose to expose how Diversity and Inclusion positively brings things to the work place. Stovall says, “I believe that businesses are in the position to do something, businesses can dismantle racism if diversity and inclusion is incorporated. I am not diving into the racism argument, but the idea that incorporating diversity and inclusion can benefit society dissolving racism. Think about it, if every workplace in the world had a dose of each ethnicity within. Individuals would get into habit working with a diverse group of people. Helping society as a whole. Over time the more people become comfortable with people of different race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, political beliefs, etc., the more kids will be raised with the same attitude. A change in company policy, could change the world.

The world’s growing development requires more interaction among people from diverse cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds than ever before. People no longer live and work in a narrow marketplace; they are now part of a worldwide economy with competition coming from almost every continent. With this in mind, consider this question about different perspectives. Do two male coworkers of different races or religions who were brought up in the same city, in the country, graduated and received education from the same university and have worked in the same field for more than 10 years think alike professionally? Do they approach issues in the same way, have the same opinions and make the same judgments? No, because of a couple of small differences the will have 2 completely different approaches.

This is why diverse teams process and analyze facts and information more accurately to make the right decision. In the study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in Northwestern University by Katherine Phillips, a team was divided into 2 groups of members (Philips, 2010). The first one with the out-group newcomers and the second with newcomers. Both groups were to read the interviews conducted by the detective who investigated a murder and to find out who the suspect was. It turned out that the second group was more accurate of a joint decision. This research showed that diverse groups may outperform the groups of in discussing, problem-solving and decision making. (Philips, 2010). A set of more diverse people naturally would have experienced different things thus causing them to approach situations in a unique way. Groups with any, gender, racial or cultural diversity work harder both socially and cognitively. Diverse groups of people share a wider range of data, they are better at considering the facts, they assume that they need to work harder to come to a consensus. Diversity in the workplace shows strong potential to improve work and productivity. A diverse team in your company may become the reflection of the rapidly changing marketplace and the world (Brief, 2008).

In conclusion, diversifying your company or corporation with employees of different races, genders and backgrounds is essential for increasing your company’s collective intellectual potential. Creating a more diverse workplace will help to balance your team members’ biases and make them think before they assume. At the same time, we need to make sure the organization has inclusive practices so that everyone feels they are apart. All of this can make your teams efficient and make your company more successful.

References

Stovall, J. (2018, July). How to get serious about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Ted.com. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/janet_stovall_how_to_get_serious_about_diversity_and_inclusion_in_the_workplace/up-next?language=en

Accenture.Inclusion Starts With I. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g88Ju6nkcg

Diversity and Inclusion Definition. Ferris.edu. Retrieved from https://ferris.edu/HTMLS/administration/president/DiversityOffice/Definitions.htm

Ferdman, B. (2014). Diversity at Work: The practice of inclusion. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib-proxy.radford.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bm[email protected]pdc-v-sessmgr06&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1

Brief AP. Diversity at Work. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2008. https://lib-proxy.radford.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=228099&site=eds-live&scope=site. Accessed November 4, 2018.

K. P. (2010, October 26). Better Decisions Through Diversity. Retrieved from https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/better_decisions_through_diversity

Rock, D., & Grant, H. (2016, November 4). Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter. Harvard Business Review.  Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter

Kuk-Kyoung Moon. (2018). Examining the Relationships Between Diversity and Work Behaviors in U.S. Federal Agencies: Does Inclusive Management Make a Difference? Review of Public Personnel Administration38(2), 218–247. https://doi-org.lib-proxy.radford.edu/10.1177/0734371X16660157

Ely, R. J., & Thomas, D. A. (2001). Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes. Administrative Science Quarterly46(2), 229–273. Retrieved from https://lib-proxy.radford.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=5305372&site=eds-live&scope=site

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