Diversity and Inclusion: More Than Just a Buzz Phrase

The calls for diversity and inclusion are all around us, in almost every sector of business, and life in general. Our current media and social media platforms have accelerated our ability to share information at a speed we’ve never experienced. The plights, stories, and history of often disenfranchised people groups have made their way to the forefront of our news and social platforms. Awareness of the role that bias plays in our hiring and selection decisions has grown, as HR professionals work to re-learn their tendencies, recognizing the need to discover and reshape their thinking that has led to their own bias towards things and people.



There’s no question, everyone has bias, and most often that bias comes from past experience and lessons that we have learned. To be honest, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with bias, until there is. While there are plenty of examples of willful rejection of someone based on their skin color, nationality, sexual orientation, age, and religion, those are examples of right-out prejudice. Most of those are matters of the heart that can’t seemingly be regulated by laws.

However, there is this element of bias, often times unconscious bias, that also eliminates people and opportunities based on a myriad of factors that have nothing to do with whether someone is a good fit for the job or company. And while racism, ageism, sexism, and all the other ism’s are devastating, it’s easier to point out when someone is being overt and abusive with their belief system. The nuances of bias make it more difficult to recognize, because the person with bias often doesn’t recognize it themselves.

Bias in this form looks like making judgments, not only on the list of things above, but more so where someone went to school, where they worked previously, who they know, their certifications or lack thereof, their personality, where they were born, whether they have tattoos (or not), how they dress, and more. And while these can be important things to consider when hiring a new employee, bias can eliminate people who would otherwise be great potential candidates, just on the basis of where they went to school. While work history and experience can also be markers of a qualified candidate, there are some candidates who don’t have the history, but totally have the capacity and ability to learn the job.



But the challenge today is moving beyond the buzz phrase known as diversity and inclusion. There still exists the idea of finding someone of a different color, sexual orientation, or age bracket, to kind of check-off the list of demands for diversity and inclusion. This type of hiring is a disservice to everyone in the long run. First off, disenfranchised groups don’t need a handout. Secondly, hiring just on the basis of making sure you’re meeting quotas or ideals assures you’re sending the wrong message to your employees, and you end up missing out on incredible talent that comes in all shapes and forms.

  • In the report Global Diversity Primer, it was found that companies that practice inclusion by tapping the knowledge and experiences of diverse employees meet their product revenue targets 46% more often, and their product launch dates 47% more often, compared with similar companies.

Far from just trying to meet a cultural perception that your company is diverse, the inclusion of diverse employees in your business powerfully affects the overall production and bottom-line value of your company.  In fact, the same report revealed that out of 506 U.S. businesses studied, each 1% increase in gender diversity led to a 3% increase in sales revenue. And this isn’t just about gender diversity. It’s about human diversity, and purposefully including people from all walks of life to bring about more innovative and robust business that shapes the world. 



In order to capture the true power of diversity and inclusion, we have to move beyond the decisions we make just for the sake of appearance and perception. And there’s no doubt, there are companies who are digging deep to get beyond bias, in order to find the best candidates available. HR Tech is helping us make major headway in eliminating bias in our recruiting and hiring processes. However, the fundamental change comes when we truly value ALL people and the potential they posses, bringing visibility to a new spectrum of candidates.

Instead of being concerned about fulfilling the diversity and inclusion perception of the company, a business has the opportunity to evaluate their imperatives and priorities, and then hire top, diverse talent to meet their business needs. This diverse talent is recognized for their unique contributions, a critical component to the company’s success.

The way in which a company integrates a new employee, particularly during the onboarding process, is essential to engagement and productivity. While this is true for every employee, for workers who fit the diversity label (maybe we’ll be able to get away from that label someday), thoughtful sensitivity and awareness is required. People bring their own concerns, biases, and sometimes prejudices. Assuring that people from all walks of life are accepted and are brought to being a fully productive employee is the goal, and sometimes people coming from one background might require communication that another doesn’t. And it’s not about placating a certain people group, or trying to play political, it’s about recognizing that effectively assimilating a new hire into a business culture is not a one-size-fits-all process. In order to break down barriers, you have to deliver the communication required to make it happen.

It takes time, effort, un-learning, learning, and purpose, to truly capture the essence of diversity and inclusion in our businesses. There is a world of talent out there, we just sometimes need a little help in being able to see it. If you’ll make the effort, the world will be at your doorstep.