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Have you ever gone through the process of baking a cake from scratch? Pulling out all the ingredients, measuring everything, mixing, scraping the sides of the bowl, mixing again? Pouring the batter into the pan, sliding it into the oven and then just when it begins to rise a little, pull it out of the oven? Before it’s done? No? That is what diversity is without inclusion, a half-baked cake. A cake that will not stand on its own, that would probably make you sick if you tried to eat it.
How then, can we expect diversity, one-half of a process, to be enough to keep organizations sustainable and relatable? Diversity is great for getting many different experiences and voices in the same room, but inclusion is making sure they all have what they need to be successful. That process would look like hiring someone in a wheelchair but not installing ramps that would make getting inside the building easier or hiring someone who is Muslim but not providing a private, quiet space for prayer. The old method of introducing diversity with outdated trainings and threats for non-compliance have proven to not work well, so what is the new way?
How can organizations institute change that keeps their organizations thriving? According to J. Nortz in an article from the Rochester Business Journal, some essential practices for authentic inclusion are pairing new hires with a manager as a mentor, more individual and group contact to foster relationships, social accountability and transparent hiring and compensation. Mentorship helps new hires to quickly learn the ropes and gives them an outlet for navigating relationships. More individual and group contact helps to remind people that everyone is a human being with lives and feelings, social accountability ensure that any negativity is quickly drowned out and transparent hiring practices ensures that there is an equal playing field starting with a job listing with a salary range. These practices lead to happier employees, more creativity and innovation, more collaboration and greater organizational loyalty. It is a fully baked cake, ready for icing such as improved organizational output, more funds raised, and a work environment that everyone competes to join.
If you are in a position of power in your organization, offer up these four proven methods of inclusion and see how beautiful you cake turns out!
JeKaren Olaoya is a graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University. Olaoya completed her undergraduate degree in Art and Sociology at Mercer University in Macon, GA. Her passion is social justice work related to racial equity, diversity and inclusion, and community development.