There has been a lot of talk about diversity inclusion and equity. Can’t use the initials in that order it says DIE, not good.  What are all these words and how do they affect us and our businesses?

I coined I.D.E.A.because for me it encompasses all of the aspects of what we need to embrace. I’ll give examples of how, but first let me describe what I see. I began with Inclusion because whether you are describing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or how you felt in school; we all want to feel included and be a part of something.

This led me to Diversity. I was teaching a class to Chinese business people at UCLA and using an interpreter. I used the word Diversity and he told me there is no word for that in Chinese I later found out there is, Duōyàng xìng. The word Diversity simply means difference. We put emotions on it based on our experiences. Diversity is important for those who have businesses as it can increase ideas and innovation when people with different experiences work on a project.

The “E” covers 2 words. Equity and Engagement. If there is equity in the workplace in terms of how people are treated, and rewarded there will be more engagement and desire to perform better. When Marcus Buckingham did his study on engaged employees almost 20 years ago he found the average was 35% meaning 65% were not engaged and not at peak performance. They didn’t feel valued in many cases and they did not feel they were treated the same as others. This is not about equality but rather each person receiving the support they need to do their best and feel included as opposed to everyone getting the same. Then there is Justice which removes barriers.

The “A” covers 3 words Acceptance, Authenticity and Alignment Alignment refers to the values of the individual being in sync with the values of the business .  Are the expectations known? Are the ethics known?  Just as we want to be included we want to be accepted for who we are and what we stand for.  Then it’s the biggie authenticity; are we free to express who we are safely? When we are with others do we feel we can’t say or do certain things or like and associate with certain people? How freeing is it when you can say no thank you I don’t like that or yes, please I do want to do that or I have done that? I remember a career client who preferred to dress in bright head scarves and clothes from Africa. She was afraid she would have to change her attire if she wanted to work at some companies. I asked her why she would want to work someplace that did not allow her to be authentic and true to her values?

Putting these words into practice takes time, desire, planning, evaluating and creating. It begins with the mission and values of the company.  Then it includes who you hire and why.  Are you hiring people for their talent or the prestige of where they went to school?  Do the interviewers recognize their hiring biases.?  By the way we all have them, just as we all have prejudices; it’s how we act on them. Yes, it’s more comfortable for some to be surrounded by people who look act and think like them, but that limits innovation and growth in an organization.

Once people are hired are they made to feel included? Are expectations set? Do they have mentors or guides to help them?

When it’s time for promotions or career growth is everyone offered opportunities without bias and barriers.

I.D.E.A. traverses all levels of any business and life. I saw an anonymous quote that said people don’t think they judge. How are you judging others and more importantly how do you want to be seen, perceived and judged? Lots of questions to think about.

If you are not sure about steps to take or ideas to implement I.D.E.A. let’s look at where you are and where you want to be and create the plan to help you get there. if you have incorporated these ideas let me know how it’s working, I love to share stories.