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December 2020  Volume 18, Number 12        

diverse employee huddle

What it Takes to Add Inclusion to Your Diversity Efforts

Employers have been practicing diversity in hiring for many years but are now finding that inclusion is also important. Do you know the difference?

For many years employers have taken measures to ensure their workforce is diverse. They set goals to hire a certain percentage of minorities and posted job openings to especially appeal to minorities.

Employers have since learned that diversity hiring is not enough to create an energetic, productive workforce. Inclusivity, as well as diversity, is just as important. And while diversity and inclusion might sound like the same thing, they are different.

First, diversity is about more than race. It also includes many other characteristics including national origin, ethnicity, gender, abilities, sexual preference, age, interests, background, levels of educational achievement and socioeconomic status.

Keep in mind that not all concerns about diversity are per se a violation of the law. Some concerns might just be culturally problematic. Which is why it's important to have training that focuses on respect in the workplace.

Whereas diversity is the makeup of your workforce, inclusion is about the quality of the culture in which diversity exists. Inclusion is how individuals feel they are treated by co-workers and managers. For instance: do all workers get the same promotional, mentoring, and training opportunities, as well as access to volunteer activities as other employees? True inclusion removes all barriers, discrimination and intolerance.

The bottom line is that having a diverse, talented workforce is not enough; everyone needs to be respected equally and made to feel a part of the team.


One of the driving forces behind encouraging companies to be more diverse is federal compliance regulations concerning all aspects of employment. These include recruiting, hiring, promoting, demoting, transferring, training, terminating and employee benefits planning. Employers who have 15 or more employees must follow the guidelines set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Laws enforced by the EEOC include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects applicants and employees against discrimination or retaliation for filing a complaint based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national origin, or pregnancy
  • Equal Pay Act
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The federal government also has regulations governing diversity practices for federal contractors.

Proactive Steps

To check how inclusive your organization is, conduct a diversity and inclusion analysis. In particular, look for these red flags:

  • Lack of diversity in the workplace, including the makeup of the executive management team
  • Diverse leaders who are not a part of the decision-making process
  • Limited resources devoted to diversity initiatives
  • Diversity initiatives that focus only on recruitment
  • Tokenism (one person representing a whole race, minority group, gender, etc.)
  • High turnover, especially of a particular minority group

As you start to develop policies and decide they could negatively affect any protected groups, make sure you have a diverse group working on the project. Think about who the new policy and procedures impact and whether they could negatively effect any protected groups.


Make sure employees and management staff are familiar with EEOC laws; and the company's "no harassment" policy; and, if you serve as a federal contractor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance laws.

Training, however, should go beyond focusing only on laws. Current and new employees should be informed about what inclusion means with special focus on behavioral patterns such as implicit bias, microaggression and stereotyping.


To be successful there should be buy-in from all sectors of the company — starting with the executives. Leadership needs to challenge the status quo and model the type of behavior they want to see.

Even if the team includes an ethics and compliance component, the organization's human resource department will be a valuable partner in implementing the policies and training during the onboarding process.

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In this issue:

Employers to Cut Back on 2021 Salary Increases

Taking the High Cost of Relocation Out of the Equation

What it Takes to Add Inclusion to Your Diversity Efforts

2021 Health Care Costs Could Reach Double Digits

Family Friendly Benefits Now Include Fertility Treatments



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