One topic seems to be at the top of every company’s training list: diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What was once just called “diversity training” has expanded to include two more words (equity and inclusion) and thousands of providers and solutions attempting to help companies create more inclusive environments and to confront racism and discrimination head on.
But what does it mean to be inclusive?
The Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) defines inclusion as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”
I’d boil that employee handbook definition down to this: everyone gets a fair shot.
This means reconsidering and dismantling systems that favor or exclude groups. And while much of the attention is on race right now (and deservedly so), there is a lot more ground to cover.
Inclusion means a commitment to creating an environment that allows each person to thrive. This requires different perspectives, but it is certainly not limited to race, gender, or orientation. And it is not enough just to tear down a system that is inequitable; it must be replaced with an ecosystem that opens access to progress for everyone.
A new Netflix documentary, Money, Explained, sheds light on how our financial system preys on people. The advent of big data allows companies to create personalized pathways to profit extraction for each individual based on their unique behaviors and spending habits. And while it is useful to bring awareness to this issue, what is even more important to provide an alternative.
Employers hold some very important keys to making this a reality. They represent economies of scale and can access benefits and resources that individuals cannot acquire on their own. So, whether it is financial progress, communication skills, mental health, or any other outcome, employers can provide new environments to disrupt, repair, and replace broken, exclusive systems.
Inclusion is not just about bias and discrimination, it is also about giving everyone a fair shot to achieve their goals. And employers have the leverage to give their people access to systems and resources that can do just that.