We hear these terms thrown around a lot and with good reason; knowing what they actually mean is important. Let’s break it down.
DIVERSITY: Diversity is about variety. Diversity is the range of our differences, including things like race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, cognitive abilities, religious beliefs, national origin. It’s everything that makes us unique – seen and unseen.
And every one of us is unique and diverse – it’s not one group of people and then everybody else is diverse. We’re all a part of diversity.
EQUITY & EQUALITY: The terms equality and equity are often used interchangeably but they actually have very different meanings.
Equality is defined as treating everyone the same. It’s about giving everyone the same opportunities, resources and access. Equality is focused on ensuring that everyone gets the same things in order to thrive at work and in their careers. When it comes to the workplace, equality typically doesn’t work because of unconscious bias, each person’s unique background (social class, education, age, race etc) and all the ‘isms’ that exist, for example ageism, ableism and racism. Not everyone is starting from the same place or needs the same things.
Equity is defined as “the state, quality or ideal of being just, impartial and fair.” Equity refers to need. Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to thrive at work and in their careers. To get to equity, sometimes policies and procedures mean there will be an unequal distribution of resources. An equity approach acknowledges that we all don’t start off from the same place, so we’ll need different support to reach our full potential.
Diversity and equity are addressed and can be impacted at the leadership and systems level.
INCLUSION & BELONGING: Inclusion is about involvement and respect. It’s a sense of belonging; being valued for who we are. Feel safe being our authentic selves. If you feel included and like you belong, you know you have a place to grow, make mistakes, contribute just like the people around you. You feel like you have the opportunity to thrive.
Vernay Meyers said “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Inclusion is a verb – it’s action. People feel like they belong as a result of how the people around them treat them. Each one of us is responsible for creating inclusion. Being inclusive means valuing and respecting people for who they are and staying open-minded and curious. It’s how we show up day to day and interact with the people around us.
It’s not pretending we don’t see the differences, being overly polite and keeping things superficial, or ignoring the person who is different than us. Instead, we get there by focusing on our similarities—on our shared humanity. And by understanding the people around us as an individuals for who they are.
Inclusion and belonging are addressed and can be impacted at the individual level.
Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging all play a part in creating workplaces and a world where every single person can live up to their full potential than thrive.
For more information on diversity, equity, and inclusion consider downloading our everyday inclusion app.