Inclusion and Making Diversity a Reality

By Stanley E. Harris, MD, MA
April 18, 2022

Inclusion must be an integral part of the organization’s culture and can only be validated through its visible presence, not through proclamation. The culture of organizations and their leaders must embrace the tenets of diversity and inclusion to adapt to the changes in the composition of today’s workforce.

Inclusion is the key to making diversity a reality. Inclusion of the most diverse workforce unequivocally signals an organization’s commitment to diversity. Inclusion must be an integral part of the organization’s culture and can only be validated through its visible presence, not through proclamation. The culture of organizations and their leaders must embrace the tenets of diversity and inclusion to adapt to the changes in the composition of today’s workforce.

Inclusion is realized when the engagement of all employees is a priority. This may mean communicating the same message in different ways to different segments of the workforce. Inclusion means that everyone has an opportunity to participate and contribute. Leaders must be aware of their preconceived notions of an individual, their implicit or explicit biases that inhibit the participation or contribution of the individual. Leaders’ lack of awareness or inability to manage these deficits contribute directly to the exclusion, not inclusion, of individuals.

These important steps can foster inclusion:

  1. Encourage senior executives to sponsor affinity groups for employees focused on promoting ethnic, racial, and religious understanding; celebrating cultural, gender, ethnic, and religious identities; and serving as mentors.

  2. Include diversity and inclusion training in the orientation of new employees.

  3. Enable everyone to participate or contribute.

  4. Do not allow “the loudest voice” to dominate a meeting or exclude the voices of others.

  5. Create opportunities for the education and sharing of religious, ethnic, cultural, and other traditions with the entire workforce.

  6. Recognize the need for flexibility of schedules to observe certain religious or cultural beliefs and customs.

  7. Ensure that everyone has equal access to career development, acquisition of skills, and education opportunities.

  8. Create opportunities for team members to meet and collaborate with colleagues from other departments on all issues that require a collective effort to deliver the best results.

  9. Promote or require the participation and inclusion of all individuals or groups.

  10. Work to eliminate a “silo mentality” with individuals and departments.

 

 

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Excerpted from
The People Value Proposition: See One, Do One, Teach One…LEAD, A Physician’s Journey to Leadership, by Stanley E. Harris, MD, MA.

 

 

 

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