2020 has many of us in a charged emotional state.  Between the pandemic, civil unrest, and economic troubles, it is difficult to identify how we feel sometimes. Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to educate our staff when it comes to inclusive behavior.  Different backgrounds, religions, morals, ethics, and values all come into play in our work environment.  Human resources has an opportunity and an obligation to be a catalyst in supporting employees, regardless of their differences. For some, this takes education and patience.

One of the easiest ways to understand what diversity and inclusion means is found in this quote from Verna Myers.

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” 

Myers is a Harvard trained lawyer, a black female, and is considered an expert in the field.  This quote easily provides the basic idea of diversity and inclusion.  It’s one thing to hire people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. It’s another thing altogether to truly practice inclusion.

Diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make people unique while inclusion refers to the behaviors and social norms that ensure people feel welcome.

Outside of blatant racism and prejudice, unconscious bias makes up the majority of unfair treatment. Bias is a judgment made, even with compelling data and information to the contrary. Unconscious bias is a judgment made without being aware that we are doing so. Both habits influence how we categorize, treat, engage and position people we interact with on a daily basis.  Neither is appropriate when managing talent. The trick is learning to overcome these innate behaviors, which, as stated earlier, takes education and patience.

Companies with 100 or more employees, as well as companies who have 50 employees or more and $50,000 in government contracts, are required to report their labor statistics to the government every year, under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. This law makes it illegal to discriminate against applicants and employees based on race, color, religion, sexual preference, gender, pregnancy, ethnicity, age, disability or genetic information. 

All these rules can be a lot to remember.  It becomes easier if you follow one rule. Base your employment decisions about the person in front of you on their ability to do the job and nothing else.  Their age doesn’t matter.  The skin color, gender or sexual preference doesn’t matter.  Can they do the job? That is the only question you should ask yourself.

Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Don’t worry. We can help.

Diversity and inclusion training is one of many trainings we offer at NAE.  If you and/or your staff would benefit from learning more about how to implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace, please register for our webinar, Diversity & Inclusion in 2020, on October 13, 2020.