Embracing our differences and creating inclusive working environments allows everyone to thrive and reach their greatest potential.
To create a more inclusive and modern work environment, Morales recommends companies define diversity in the workplace around three core concepts:
Belonging: “I think the way people conceptualize diversity and inclusion often lacks a component of belonging,” says Morales. “While equity and inclusion are certainly important, what companies should really strive for is to create an environment where people feel like they belong. That’s the core of what this work is all about.
If you have a culture in which people feel like they don’t belong, connect or succeed as their authentic selves, then your company will have an employee population that’s not giving you the best of them. They won’t produce their best work and you’ll have a retention issue, so it’s really important to focus on making sure people feel like they belong.”
Celebrating Difference: “No one is homogenous, we’re all unique,” Morales says. “Most people have at least one experience in their life where they recognize differences, so it helps to think about diversity as another way to recognize and celebrate our individual traits.”
This is an idea that most people can relate to and understand. Celebrating difference offers a positive message around diversity that teams can build on and support in action.
Improving Representation: Avoid using code phrases such as “bridging the gap” or “improving equity” to discuss diversity initiatives within your company, Morales recommends. These terms are often corporatized and devoid of meaning for employees. Instead, be very clear about the kind of people your company desires to attract and frame the conversation around improving representation among underrepresented groups.
“When business leaders talk about diversity as code instead of being honest about the representation issues they wish to improve, they risk losing white men and women who can be allies in this work, so I think organizations can really benefit from just calling diversity what it is: a way to improve the representation of people from underrepresented groups,” Morales says.
This is a more effective way to discuss workplace diversity because improving representation offers a cause all employees can support, whether they are members of an underrepresented group or an ally.