By Dannely Flores Kramer, Account Planning Director
Diversity in the workplace has been a hot topic populating newsfeeds for sometime now – from companies making it a performance metric which affects bonuses, to people writing memos that argue biological differences. Regardless of which side you’re on, many would likely agree that diversity is meant to drive positive change, and it usually starts with the very best intentions…that is, until people begin seeing it as a hassle, check box, quota or policy they have to abide by. But, even the best intentions run the risk of unintended consequences, as the saying goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Being a minority woman and having worked in different and diverse environments in my 10 year career, I’ve learned that a diverse work environment that is inclusive of women, people of color, and LGBT+ individuals creates a competitive edge in the market. It sends a message to your consumers that you are like them, you understand their behaviors and feelings because you have people in your company who not only represent them physically speaking but also reflect the current reality they face on a daily basis.
Although diversity and inclusion are not the same thing, when experienced together yield the best results. Diversity, when applied in the workplace, is often referred to as representation, while inclusion is referred to the acceptance of and truly embracing of that representation.
Speaking from personal experience, I have encountered the many attempts at diversity, including the box checking and quota setting, but in other places I have truly experienced a warm and welcoming inclusive environment. From those I have learned a few valuable lessons:
– When diversity is truly embraced, it enhances the work experience. Working in an environment where you can be yourself and are respectfully embraced creates a harmonious environment that not only benefits the people directly involved, but also those who witness that interaction. It becomes positively contagious.
– You get a different perspective that you would have never considered. Imagine when you see a movie, and you are only exposed to one perspective, or one side of the story, how boring and unfair that would be, not to mention completely confusing. You would miss the full picture.
– And finally, it sends a message to consumers and the public in general that, you as a business or brand, are like them and understand them as human beings; real people with real feelings, emotions and values, not only as a means of profit. You can empathize.
As a planner, I can confidently say that inclusivity and diversity have taught me to see the world from many angles; there is always at least two sides to a story. My research background helps me understand, appreciate and have empathy for the many sides of a story. Diversity and inclusion is not one thing or one story but the reflection of many perspectives, views, emotions, and one has to be fully aware in order to really embrace it.