There is a wealth of information about diversity in the public domain: what the benefits are, case studies to support its success, and how to achieve it. But could our use of the word “diversity” be making us focus too much on people’s differences rather than their commonality? We could, unwittingly, be masking the importance of equity and inclusion, which, as it turns out, speaks more to how our human psychology is hard-wired, as you’ll find out next.
I love this talk by Paloma Medina, who thinks that we should “stop talking about diversity and start working towards equity”. Her notion centres around the fact that biologically we are wired to treat anything different from our frame of reference as a threat. At the same time, we are also wired to detect inequity because it is linked to our survival on a basic human level. So, having equity as the goal is more likely to get all the fish swimming in the same direction.
Now, what about inclusion? Well, inclusion is the feeling we get when we belong. It is a primary human driver; if you think back to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, once a person has had their physiological and safety needs met, the next most important becomes the need to belong. If Love and Belonging cannot be met, no natural progression can occur. Feeling left out causes one to experience a phenomenon called “social pain”, which hurts much like physical pain does and has the same effect of making the person take action to avoid a similar thing in the future. By promoting an inclusive workplace, we can boost cooperation and collaboration, which benefit the business.
So, how do we get a commitment to change?
First of all, it involves verbalising the goal in a measurable and time-bound way. (SMART Goals, anyone?) Then it consists in getting everyone to commit to the change. What matters here is the approach and the language used must be designed so as not to raise people’s defences before having a productive and progressive conversation. The aim is to make DEI compelling, as opposed to a mandatory check box to be ticked.
From an organisational perspective, it’s about setting the priorities and building up the organisational habits that support diversity, equity and inclusion. By practising and continuing to practise these habits, real change can occur. The organisation is responsible for creating the systems that support the daily practice of these habits, which lead to sustainable change.
Can we help with your DEI initiative?
Our method includes setting a common language around diversity, equity & inclusion and promoting what this means at the individual level. By offering “sticky media” such as the paperback DEI daily journal, we can engage with employees and help them consider and create their habits and the space for self-reflection.
By encouraging individual participation and allowing one to take ownership of their role in the change, we can empower the whole organisation and mobilise everyone towards the same goal.
Our job at Torque is to create the tools for companies to use to include EVERYONE in the journey, whether they have access to the internet or not. People need the time and space to do the work and the privacy to reflect on their thoughts.
Our DEI Toolkit has been more than a year in the making. We have engaged with subject matter experts in bias, gender, sexuality and pushed ourselves to create, what we believe, is our most significant piece of work to date.