What Is the Difference Between Diversity & Inclusion?

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When companies discuss diversity and inclusion, they often use the terms together. In some cases, they may even assume that they are interchangeable. However, those two words actually refer to two very different things.

By understanding the difference between diversity and inclusion, you can create a positive, welcoming workplace that supports creativity, innovation, and idea-sharing. If you aren’t sure how the two terms differ, here’s what you need to know.

What Diversity Means

Within the workplace, diversity usually refers to cultivating a workforce filled with employees that have different backgrounds and perspectives. Often, this includes individuals of various races, ethnicities, gender identities, ages, nationalities, and more, all coming together to work for the company.

In many cases, diversity is mainly focused on traditional demographic identifiers. However, it can also be broadened, including unique aspects of a person’s identity like job function, educational experiences, work view, personal interests, and similar characteristics.

On its own, diversity doesn’t always lead to better work-related outcomes. While it is a necessary part of the equation, unless it’s coupled with inclusion, you may not achieve your objectives.

What Inclusion Means

An inclusive environment is a workplace where people from all walks of life feel welcome, supported, seen, and appreciated. Additionally, it’s where a diverse workforce can come together to form a strong community built on respect and admiration.

When a workplace is inclusive, it feels like a safe space where every employee is free to be themselves. There aren’t any fears about not belonging, so employees don’t find the need to hide aspects of who they are from their colleagues or management.

Additionally, in an inclusive culture, when people don’t see eye-to-eye on an issue, disagreements are handled respectfully. Every party feels free to share their perspective and insights and is also heard by others as they participate in discussions. Responses are polite and professional, even if the person isn’t in agreement with what’s shared.

Within an inclusive environment, creativity and innovation can reign. Since everyone can share their ideas, each employee has a chance to learn from the perspective of others. In turn, more concepts are integrated into the decision-making process, often leading to higher-quality results.

However, when an idea isn’t embraced, there isn’t any concern about repercussions. When an environment is inclusive, no one feels diminished when another path is chosen, as the reasoning behind that move is often clarified, promoting greater levels of cumulative understanding.

A Degree of Fairness In Inclusive Environments

Inclusive environments also ensure a degree of fairness. For example, when it comes to holiday celebrations, approaches tend to be nondenominational or broader, recognizing significant events across every represented faith. Additionally, flexibility may be part of the equation, ensuring that those who would like time off to celebrate holidays that matter to them can do so with ease.

Ultimately, when diversity and inclusion are both parts of the equation, a happy, innovative, and welcoming workplace is often the result. That’s why it’s so powerful, as it paves the path toward bigger, better experiences and outcomes for all involved.

If you’d like to learn more about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the team at VB can help. Contact us today.