This is the second article in the Diversity and Inclusion series. Each article focuses on one aspect of diversity and inclusion and gives definitions, examples, and advice on how to implement similar programs. Most of the information presented in these articles was gathered from a diversity summit hosted by The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM). This two-day summit covered what diversity and inclusion mean, challenges in these fields specific to manufacturing, and how to implement diversity and inclusion initiatives at all levels in any size of company.
This year NAM announced a pledge for action to help close the equity gap in the industry. By 2025, the goal is for manufacturers to have made 50,000 tangible actions to repair the unequal opportunities in the industry and create 300,000 pathways to job opportunities specifically for people of color and black people. The final goal is to change the workforce by 2030. Tracks coverage of the summit will be broken into several articles. This second installment will give a brief overview of inclusion and what it means, while the next few will dive deeper into certain aspects of diversity. Lastly, coverage will provide practical tips and advice on how to start diversity and inclusion initiatives.
What is Inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion are often mentioned in tandem, and while diversity is relatively simple to explain (it refers to the practice of including different types of people in groups, organizations, or situations or refers to different aspects of the human experience), the term inclusion is more muddled. There is no one definition of inclusion because it cannot be quantified in the same way diversity can. Inclusion is often referred to the step beyond diversity, when diversity is ingrained in the organization and people feel included, as the name suggests.
If diversity is the “numbers bit” then inclusion is the “feelings bit” as Mona Babury of Pfizer, Inc. explained. “If you spend all your efforts on diversity, it’s like filling up a bucket with a hole in the bottom. You need the inclusion piece” to be successful. Inclusion is what helps ensure people stay at the organization.
Larry Jeminson of HBCU Connect posed some important questions when interacting with another, specifically a person of color. These questions highlighted inclusion’s emphasis on
feelings, belonging, environment, etc. rather than on numbers or facets of diversity. His questions regarding inclusion are listed below.
• How do I feel when you engage me?
• Are you trying to make it comfortable for me to come on board, make an impact, and be successful?
• How are promotions and emails showing inclusion? Are there people of color or other minorities?
• What considerations were given to this role? If I accept, will I fit in?
• Are you cultivating a position of inclusion when you engage me?
Why is it important?
There are many dimensions of diversity and not all can be tracked, measured, or otherwise indicated. This is why inclusion is so important; the foundation for diversity to blossom is already there without the need for those diverse employees to identify themselves. An inclusive environment provides a safe space for employees.
As discussed in the first article in this series, diversity can serve as a way to expand the pool of potential employees which is a crucial factor in the face of the workforce shortage. Hiring diverse employees is a way to get a foot in the door, but if the environment they are brought into is not healthy and inclusive, those employees the organization worked so hard to recruit will leave.
In an industry that is already struggling with a workforce shortage, creating an inclusive environment is one way to help mitigate turnover rates and costs. In addition, diversity and inclusion has been shown to help companies financially. Companies in the top quartile of racial and gender diversity are more likely to have better financial returns.
Future articles will focus on various dimensions of diversity, including race and ethnicity, gender, and age. More resources can be found at:
For questions or article suggestions, contact NATM Tracks Editor Elizabeth Moore at Elizabeth.Moore@natm.com