It’s time to stop calling it Diversity and Inclusion

Did you know that Women are dramatically outnumbered in senior leadership? Only about 1 in 5 C-suite leaders is a woman, and only 1 in 25 is a woman of colour. Did you know that 64% of women experience micro-aggressions in the workplace?

it's not diversity and inclusion, it's equity and inclusion in the workplace
Women in the Workplace Report, MicKinsey, 2018.

This research speaks about not only about the lack of representation in Black Indigenous Women of Colour (BIWOC) in leadership, but also the fact that when they are in the workplace, they’re not made to feel welcome. Retention of women, and more specifically BIWOC, is just as important as hiring them in the first place.

Diversity and Inclusion is now a hot trend, if you’re not on board with it, your company is not seen as “forward-thinking” and “innovative”. I was speaking at Fiix Software yesterday on Intersectionality, and mentioned how important it is to steer the conversation away from simply “D&I” to “Equity and Inclusivity”. This type of language glamorizes the actual work efforts to humanize workplace culture.

The other problem with this trend is that the focus ends up being too much on the Optics of the work, and not the internal organizational structures that are creating the conditions for employees in the workplace.

It’s vital for us see this work as more than just hiring more people and women of colour. This work isn’t about filling in quotas and checking off boxes. If you’re an organization that is truly looking to invest in creating an equitable work environment for women and women of colour to join your team, you’ll need to do a lot more than simply increasing the hiring metrics.

We know that 64% of women experience micro-aggressions in the workplace. This means that even if your company is “diverse” the right conditions aren’t being created for BIWOC to *stay* in your company. Thus, the focus on diversity for your business is neither sustainable nor humane.

To ensure that you’re running an organization where inclusion and equity is sustainable and is at the core of the organization’s mandate, it’s important to unpack some of the conditions that are being created in the workplace. Creating a culture of inclusivity should be one of the core focuses of any organization looking to succeed and grow.

How can companies move towards more equitable environments?

  • Acknowledging different cultures & ethnicities throughout the year so it’s not a one-off occasion, but it becomes the norm. This needs to have everyone involved and onboard, and should provide an opportunity for employee engagement and relationship building.
  • Providing objective feedback to BIWOC without coming with any bias that might have about them personally. This will help us to work on skillsets and areas that need improvement to avoid an early company departure.
  • Be the voice of encouragement, especially to BIWOC. Don’t be afraid to compliment us about something we have done and accomplished at work. Often times, a lot of our efforts go unrecognized, and hearing a compliment gives not only a sense of encouragement, but allows us to maintain the positive efforts and outcomes.
  • Setting up a plan with goals and a strategy on how to execute on these goals is one of the main ways leaders could work on creating organizational change. This strategy is important to be created with members of the organization that truly understand current employees, hires, and some of the statistics that can be leveraged for employee engagement and retention.
  • Amplify underrepresented voices. It is often best to de-centre yourself as a leader and allow others to take the reins, and lead. This includes a lot of trusting, as well as power giving. When you give away power, you will inadvertently become a more charismatic leaders. The other benefit of de-centring yourself as a leader is to hear from people who have traditionally been not heard, thus giving more opportunity for business and economic growth.

There are many other strategies that one can adopt, especially for leaders, to ensure that you’re keeping BIWOC in your organization, more importantly, without experiencing racism, and micro-aggressions. My next blog post will focus on intersectionality, and why this concept is vital to moving towards equity and inclusivity in your organization.

If you’re an organization looking to foster an equitable work environment, don’t be afraid to reach out to me to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities, and questions you may have at rusul@parkdaleinnovates.org.

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