Diversity and Inclusion – A Mindful Journey

7/5/2016

What’s something major organizations across the globe have caught onto as the world becomes more interconnected and technologically advanced? That organizations need diverse workforces – people of every gender, race, age and identity group – to truly grow. Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), therefore, should be looked at as a sustained competitive advantage for organizations’ continued advancement. After all, diverse teams perform better, and when teams perform better, organizations see success.

We know that D&I is not only a moral commitment, but also a key driver of innovation and organizational success. But what do we mean by Diversity and Inclusion? Taking a quick look at the term, we can see that the two words build on each other. To strive for diversity, first off, is to recognize and embrace the existence of many visible and invisible differences between people. Diversity can be thought of as something we can see – the physical appearance of a diverse workforce – but also what we cannot see – the invisible differences that make people unique and valuable contributors to an organization.

Inclusion, meanwhile, means creating an environment that values and integrates others’ differences, ideas and experiences, and provides the opportunity for everyone to participate, thus leading to better business outcomes. Inclusion is the ultimate aspirational goal of creating an environment for business success that ensures opportunity and leverages the viewpoints, perspectives and knowledge from all members of an organization.

Knowing this, then, what are the steps an organization can take to increase its levels of diversity and inclusion?

  • As a first step, instill in employees to value differences among themselves and others on key issues.
  • Then leaders must identify and transform exclusive behaviors in themselves and their workplaces
  • Finally, they must model and imbed inclusive behaviors and practices in all levels of the organization.

All of the above must be done with mindfulness – being present in the moment and conscious of one’s thoughts and actions in real time. The awareness brought on by mindfulness creates space in one’s mind to think and reduces intention-behavior gaps, in which one’s intention is not what their behavior shows.

By following the above points, with a commitment to mindfulness throughout the journey, organizational leaders can engage and empower their diverse employees. This leads to greater satisfaction and loyalty among employees, but also major returns for the company.