In a 2017 study on Global Human Capital Trends by Deloitte Ltd., results indicated that over two-thirds of executives rate diversity and inclusion as an important issue – up 59% since 2014.

The terms diversity and inclusion are often used interchangeably, yet only the latest workplace trends reveal how they may be dependent.

Diversity, though essential to workplace culture and values, is old news. Inclusion is now especially essential to helping a diverse workforce succeed; you must have both components present to optimize the benefits of each.

“Diversity is inviting people to the party whereas inclusion is asking them to dance, as they are able.” – Emily Hickey, Vanderbilt University

Aside from diversity, inclusion better explains core values and the quality of workplace culture. Inclusion promotes the equity, voice, participation, and empowerment of the workforce… not just the physical aspects that come with diversity such as race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Inclusion is the manner in which employees thrive – and how leadership can encourage their employees to do their absolute best, particularly in a team-based environment. Yes, you may already have a diverse workforce, but taking the next step towards an inclusive environment is key to both attracting and retaining talent.

There are many, many ways to provide a more inclusive workplace, and it’s becoming essential to business growth in 2019 and beyond.

What are some of the ways in which inclusion can be attained? Mainly, it’s through the empowerment of others, which is best achieved by:

· Harboring an environment of human respect and values no matter a person’s background

· Keeping communication lines open and friendly, and breaking down uncomfortable “barriers” to communication (i.e. race, ethnicity, and gender)

· Ensuring that leadership emphasizes the importance of respect in their recruitment and promotion strategies

· Encouraging collaboration, forward-thinking strategies, and change that will better the team as a whole

· Appealing to a person’s greatest strengths and encouraging ingenuity through those strengths.

When discussions become more collaborative, and promote individuality in a professional manner, the benefits can be monumental. You’ll have a more educated and well-versed workforce who respects one another, and a chance to build your company’s diversity programs as well. Plus, production is bound to spike when employees feel they are heard, and thus, are motivated to implement goals.

It’s safe to say that it is inclusion that builds diversity, rather than being a product of diversity. Without one, the other will not succeed.

Carrie Charles, CEO