The Importance of Separate-But-Equal Diversity & Inclusion Strategies!

While ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are certainly interconnected terms, they are far from being interchangeable. As we continue to build up our new normal companies and scale them for growth, we do our best to always be conscious of this difference. This awareness is used as our baseline to create intentional strategies that will secure ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ throughout all levels of our organization for the long term. Here’s why doing so is critical for any business. 

Diversity vs Inclusion

Diversity refers to the make-up of your team. It’s about representation. Essentially, it’s those factors that you can count. For instance, what is your team’s average age? What percentage of your team is female? How many different nationalities are represented? Which types of professional backgrounds do you have? While the answers to these questions can be valuable, it is important to remember that these metrics, as stand-alone numbers, do not add strength to your team or necessarily give a competitive advantage. It is only when diversity is combined with inclusion that the good stuff happens.

Inclusion can be described as a measure of the culture enabling our diversity to thrive. This comes down to how well we can integrate and value the inputs, perspectives, and contributions of all our different people and groups of people. This is no small task, and it requires continued focus and intentional efforts across the organization. 

To better explain we need both, let’s look at an example: imagine a team where the members represent different nationalities, sexual orientations, genders, and professional backgrounds - what many consider a successfully diverse team. Right? Well, when working together, only certain individuals in this team have their perspectives valued by their leader. In other words, the team lead focuses on the input and ideas of certain individuals more than others.

Such a scenario leaves us with a highly diverse team without an inclusive team culture and is more common than you would think. In George Orwell's famous book ‘Animal Farm’, he writes that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." As a reference to and an accurate assessment of the disparities that do exist in society, when it comes to businesses, the best companies will work hard to foster an environment where all of their people are created equal. If you want to truly harness the benefits of diversity, inclusion becomes necessary. Moreso, the intersection of the two is where the real magic happens. 

The importance of connecting your diversity and inclusion efforts

Diversity and inclusion have been on our agenda from day one. It isn't just something we said we would focus on once we reached a certain size or level of success. And that’s because we believe that in order to get a jumpstart on product development and secure the best decisions along the way, we need those differing views, hard questions, and ‘what ifs?’ that comes from a diverse and inclusive team. Moreover, we need them at all levels and across all disciplines of the organization; from recruitment processes and individual teams, and to projects and leadership structures. 

Let’s zoom in on our recruitment process; we would be far from reaching our goals if we limited our strong focus on diversity and inclusion only to our recruitment pipeline. Sure, it would enable us to secure candidates and new hires with different competencies, backgrounds, nationalities and genders, thereby providing a diverse workforce. But how would that benefit us, if for instance our leadership teams didn’t harness the potential of our diversity? This is the reason we always look to diversify instead of conforming to what's already represented. While growing and securing the involvement, empowerment, and trust of various groups of people across our organization, processes, and levels certainly takes time, energy, and resources, it is more than worth it if you want fantastic products and long-term success.

Why spend so much time focusing on diversity and inclusion?

The benefits of active and focused diversity and inclusion work are not only relevant to our field of work; they can benefit every company in every industry across the world. When looking at our own diversity and inclusion work, we’ve been able to identify several benefits for our people, and thus, the growth of our companies. Here are our top three:

  • People are more motivated and feel valued, which gives higher retention rates.
  • People respect each other's inputs and perspectives and are curious to learn new things, which gives a higher degree of creativity and innovation.
  • A thriving, diverse group of people who are proud to showcase their contributions gives us increased attractiveness in terms of recruitment.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Diversity and inclusion also generate unique customer viewpoints, enhance decision-making, strengthen reputations, and help organizations thrive during economic recessions. Even in the boardroom, we see diversity trickling down to strengthen environmental and social performances. 

Want to learn more about how we work with diversity, equity, and inclusion at the New Normal Group? Check out our Diversity Statement.