Updated: Oct 27
To start, the diversity and inclusion concept was discussed in Europe during the early nineties due to the shortage in the labour force and the lack of integration of skilled immigrant labour into the job market. It was also a motive for attracting talent, opening new business opportunities through employing different cultures, and increasing the purchasing power of minorities in the hosting community. In this context, the concept of social sustainability has been entangled with the concept of diversity management, as it mainly focuses on building a diversified organisation structure by ensuring the inclusion of minorities in organisations, thus creating social equality, a better quality of living, and the welfare of the societies.
Diversity in an organisation is representing employing people from different backgrounds and skills. At the same time, inclusivity reflects two fundamental elements: creating employee’s sense of uniqueness and belongingness in the organisation, regardless of their race-ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, or other ideologies. Inclusion in organisation management is defined as “Enabling and valuing the participation of all employees so that they can contribute fully to the organization” (Mensi-Klarbach Heike, & Risberg Annette (2019).
Diversity and Inclusive management go hand in hand but require the organization’s management and leadership to differentiate between developing a diversity employment strategy and an inclusion strategy. Why? Because researchers highlighted that 1)Although diversity management had good intentions toward marginalised workforce/minorities, it can re-invent and re-enforce a new face of discrimination through failing to structure an inclusive strategy that empowers minorities to contribute in the workplace and give them voices regardless of any hierarchical or dominant structure.
2)Managers can find applying inclusion strategies difficult due to the diversification of the workforce, and they are experiencing pressure to focus on proving their fairness and non-discriminatory attitude rather than managing the diverse skills they are offered in their teams.
Development and Practices to Advocate for Social Sustainability
Interpretation of diversity management and Inclusion in organisations, built relationships upon helping minorities to fit into the organisational normality and empower them to be comfortable in their own skin.
Although the recruitment process would be initiated and built upon governmental incentives/regulations and cost reduction, the process needs to reflect a genuine evaluation of the employee’s skills, consequently resulting in the employability of vulnerable employees.
Provide a clear evaluation of the employee’s skills as well as a traceable development plan. Also, providing an in-house mentor willing to guide the new employees who can accepts differences will guarantee successful inclusion practices.
Create an organizational culture that empowers employees to realise their full potential and feels included. This culture should be characterised by a high tolerance for debate, empowerment of innovative ideas, and a clear mission and expectation from employees.
Developing diversity strategies with clear guidance throughout all managerial levels and a continuous evaluation and assessment process to manage diversified team skills.
Finally, create an inclusive social area at the office and encourage minorities to represent their culture and background may be by sharing few words from their language and speak about their traditions.
Visit your lunch room at work, and if you find minorities are quiet and segregated, please reassess your inclusion strategies.
Share your best inclusion practices below!
Foster Carley, & Harris Lynette (2005) Easy to say, difficult to do: Diversity management in retail. Human Resource Management Journal 15(3): 4-17. [doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-8583.2005.tb00150.x]
Romani, L., Holck, L., & Risberg, A. (2018). Benevolent discrimination: Explaining how human resources professionals can be blind to the harm of diversity initiatives. Organization, 26(3), 371-390. doi:10.1177/1350508418812585
Mensi-Klarbach Heike, & Risberg Annette (2019) Diversity in organizations: Concepts and practices. Cha 1: 3-24. London: Red Globe Press. [ISBN: 978-1-137-56927-1]