By: Megan Wickens
It’s easy to say that there’s a difference between diversity and inclusion, but drawing out the differences between these two goals is not as easy. In this guest post, Megan Wickens, head of our Alberta trades division and member of our Canadian Diversity and Inclusion Committee, looks at how inclusion policies are the next frontier in the corporate world.
There’s no doubt that we need to focus on building a culture of inclusion in the workplace and in the world.
What is diversity in the workplace? The dictionary defines diversity as the condition of having or being composed of differing elements: variety. And when we talk about diversity in the workplace, we’re usually referring to these 4 elements: ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and age.
While diversity is buried in the corporate policy of most companies, I would argue that it’s worth so much more than that. Our goal should be to create a culture of diverse talent. Instead of thinking of it as an obligation to meet diversity targets, to check off an item on a checklist, we need to reframe diversity so that it considers the inclusion of diverse viewpoints.
It doesn’t have to be hard. We do it all the time in business: diversifying portfolios and product mixes to stay ahead of the curve. Now apply the same to people – why wouldn’t we want to include diverse viewpoints from people who add value to our business and our lives? Inclusive policies can help us get there!
A little bit about me
I am on the Canadian Diversity & Inclusion Committee with the largest HR staffing company in the world and I head up the trades division in Alberta for our engineering brand (an industry that is predominantly male). I am married and do not have kids (none on two legs anyways #dogmom). I am considered a millennial, but I’ve spent almost a decade in the technical recruitment industry and another handful of years in the customer service industry.
I bring these things up because I want you to know where I’m coming from. In my career, I have not felt that my age (or lack of age) played a role in my ability to be hired. I have not felt that I was asked to do more work because I don’t have kids that depend on me. I have not felt that my opinion wasn’t valued or that I wasn’t being included. I’ve been lucky.
The truth is that many people do feel this way. And it can be hard to accept that we aren’t all inclusive leaders. So, thinking about the way that we are (and are not) inclusive can be a valuable exercise for all of us.
Focus on inclusion
My husband sent me a video created by Accenture that emphasizes the sometimes unconscious exclusion of people that can happen even when diversity targets have been met. The video highlights the ways that our differences can inform how we interact with each other, which can sometimes create uncomfortable (or even untenable) work experiences that prevent us from reaching our full potential.
The video raises questions about the ways that we treat our colleagues: what informs our expectations? How do we articulate these expectations? It ends with a call to recognize these biases and embrace change for the better – change that comes from refocusing on inclusion.
I urge you to watch the video at the end of this blog, sit back, think hard and decide — am I an inclusive leader? As leaders, we constantly need to be self-aware and empathetic; understanding our audience and showing emotional intelligence is an important part of the job. So, it’s important that we ask ourselves these important questions: Do we really know our teams? How can we know them better? How can we get the best out of everyone and not just from those who rise to the top out of sheer determination?
On our teams, everyone should be a top performer. Everyone should be valued and recognized for adding value. It’s clear that we’re better off when our diverse teams are able to contribute to our success, so let’s focus on building a culture of inclusion in the workplace and the world.
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