Though there is consensus that diversity is something we should strive for as business leaders and as a society, there are still too few organizations that have managed to move towards true inclusion. To achieve greater innovation, productivity, and profitability, companies should have a comprehensive plan to fully achieve such inclusion, since we will not see tangible benefits without the commitment of leadership and concrete changes in organizational rules and structures. That is, having a greater diversity (gender, socioeconomic background, or sexual orientation, to name a few) in the workplace is not enough if we do not change the rules of the corporate culture game.
First, we must understand that diversity and inclusion are not a fad. They are here to stay and are part of a positive trend that will have a permanent impact on the way of doing business, not only in Mexico but also around the world. To talk about diversity and inclusion is to talk about the economic development of companies. By being inclusive, organizations are paying a competitive advantage that will allow them not only to strengthen the reputation of the brand but also to build a sense of belonging that has a positive impact on its productivity and competitiveness.
In that sense, the question could arise about what is the difference between diversity and inclusion. True diversity is ensuring that our teams are comprised of people who reflect the demographics of the society in which we live. These include the representation of all those elements that make us different amongst our teams. However, this is not enough. To build a truly inclusive culture, it is necessary to establish mechanisms that allow for everyone's professional growth, taking into account that, although we are all different, we must have the same opportunities. It is also necessary to have flexible internal policies (such as paternity and maternity leave) and to ensure that the work environment is free from harassment and discrimination of any kind.
To develop an inclusive organization, this objective must become a central part of the overall strategy. This implies the development of a clear plan of action and resources who are in charge of monitoring these issues exclusively and delivering results. When have we heard that a business objective is not measurable? If we do not measure and do not encourage clear accountability, the message we are sending is that inclusion is not a central or essential issue. You have to take diversity and inclusion seriously and measure them like any other business objective. What is not measured cannot be not improved.
However, there is no single formula for all organizations. The policies in this area must be tailored to fit the realities of each company or firm. For example, the sales department has different needs than those of the administrative department. Still, it is vital that values, inclusion programs permeate throughout the organization, and that the inclusive leadership emphasizes the importance of these practices.
Undoubtedly, business leaders, as well as the leaders of the future, will have to continue looking for new ideas and mechanisms to ensure that our workforce reflects the vast wealth and diversity of our society. The success of our organizations depends on continuing to move towards modern practices in the area of inclusion and diversity.