Diversity and inclusion are not interchangeable terms. Diversity within an organization without inclusion is just many different people in the same place at the same time with no engagement or connection. Most of us will know that diverse hiring is hiring with special care to ensure procedures (like hiring) are free from biases related to a candidate’s culture, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, physical cognitive ability, veteran status, or any other difference seen or unseen that makes each of us unique. A diverse organization that is also inclusive is continually seeking ways to ensure all team members’ opinions are heard, that their unique perspectives are valued, and that they belong to one cohesive unit.
Everyone has unique characteristics that set them apart from the crowd, but not everyone has to deal with exclusion or discrimination. Furthermore, individuals themselves are not “diverse”. By labelling an individual “diverse”, you are, as a result, implying that a “default” or “norm” exists as a dominant identity. Diversity instead must be looked at as something that can only exist relationally within a group. A diverse group will be composed of people from many different backgrounds. A diverse and inclusive group can achieve equity by recognizing that some underrepresented groups have to overcome more barriers and have less access to opportunities than more dominant groups. A company must actively seek out ways to reduce barriers in order to create an even playing field for all potential candidates or current team members.
The killing of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests and rallies have been the catalyst for many companies around the world to recommit to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) practices and policies. While this is a positive step forward, it’s imperative that businesses take into account the difference between performative and active allyship. There is both a moral and business case for businesses to incorporate more diverse and inclusive hiring processes.
It is important that hiring managers understand how their hiring practices may be biased, and exactly what steps they can take (tools and technologies included) to tackle discrimination, enable equality, and foster belonging in the hiring process and beyond.