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Diversity & Inclusion: Did you miss the “&”?

Diversity and Inclusion must go hand-in-hand as a pair to accomplish the goal of a more diverse and inclusive business. Heed the tips included to move towards true diversity and inclusion.

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I have noticed that a lot of companies are making efforts towards a more diverse and inclusive workforce, company environment, and/or offerings. However, some of these well-meaning companies have definitely missed the “&” in Diversity & Inclusion. 

They thought to themselves that we must do something to show that we care about black people and minorities after seeing a black man killed right before their eyes by a police officer kneeling on his neck. All of a sudden it is time to do something despite not listening to black people before lamenting their struggles with systemic racism, especially against black men by law enforcement. When Colin Kaepernick tried to speak out with a silent protest of the non-violent act of kneeling during the anthem, they were not ready to hear it and transformed his protest of systemic racism into an unpatriotic act, turned a blind eye to his message and chose to keep right on ignoring the struggles of minorities.

Now that their eyes are open and they have declared themselves to be “WOKE,” they have now decided that it is time to take a real look at diversity and inclusion and show support. But, instead of asking the one or two or very few black people or other minorities around them what they and/or their company could do to become more diverse and inclusive of others, they decided that they already knew and chose such things as:

  • Let’s just point out black businesses by having a black heart to distinguish them
  • Let’s characterize which stories are Black stories, Asian stories, Latinx stories, LGBTQ stories etc. on our streaming service
  • Let’s create one role entitled Director of Diversity and Inclusion and hire a black woman in that role
  •  Let’s give a special handout to black-owned businesses to make ourselves feel like we’re helping in this moment
  • Let’s hire a woman to show how diverse we are now but make sure she is still white and straight and basically a female version of ourselves

Sure. These are all definitely still good first steps and I applaud the new drive to do something towards diversity and showcasing minority businesses, stories, and talent. But, hello, these are only making strides towards diversity and just go to show that they are not really interested in actually being inclusive.  

The concept is for diversity AND inclusion so that you truly represent, offer something to, or understand what affects everyone and not just people who are just like yourself. You want more diversity so that you include more perspectives that you may not have thought of based on your cultural difference. You can’t just assume that now that you have more diversity it will automatically make your business more inclusive because that is not always the case. You may have just hired a black person that is actually just like you. Pointing out black-owned and minority-owned businesses may just keep them in a separate category and not feel like they are included in the same standing as all businesses. You hired a Director of Diversity and Inclusion, but refused to implement any of her suggestions as to how to make the company more diverse and inclusive and treat the position as one for show and not really a part of the executive team. You point out which stories are Black, Asian, Latinx, LGBTQ but none of those stories are included in your lineup of classic stories, drama stories, comedies, or none of your feature stories actually feature minorities. 

There is more to it in order to bring forth diversity and inclusion. Start by thinking of the terms as a pair and not as separate concepts that can be accomplished exclusive of each other. Here are some tips you can start with to get to a more diverse and inclusive workforce, environment, and offerings:

  1. Ask your black/minority workers what would make your particular company more diverse and inclusive of their needs or concerns; 
  2. Take a real look at how inclusive your business is of all, despite differences in culture, etc.; 
  3. Review your lineup of offerings as to what counts as classics, dramas, comedies to make sure they are not those of one set of people;
  4. Acknowledge that your workforce does not reflect the inclusive and diverse customers you are marketing to;
  5. Actually respect, listen to and implement the changes suggested by the Director of Diversity and Inclusion you hired; and
  6. Treat others the way you would like to be treated

Those are not all but merely some suggestions to start with. But, take special heed to that last suggestion because it is always the best way to get to the goal of more Diversity & Inclusion so you will never again miss the “&.”

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