Washington D.C., January 2020. Dozens of Fellows reunited to celebrate their great experiences throughout the months spent in the US by emphasizing these very fundamental themes: Diversity & Inclusion.
Nowadays, if you think about those two terms, you almost can’t separate them, they look like the same thing to the majority. However, they are not and it’s crucial to understand why they differ from one another.
When you think of Diversity, you may want to consider the hypothesis of having a party with your colleagues (or classmates if you’re still in college). You start planning what venue to reserve, what music to play, and then who to invite. Thus, you begin by inviting your closest buddies, then those who were nice to you that time you needed some help with the copy machine, and then those who you feel that it’s necessary because of hierarchical reasons. Who remains out of the party? Those who you never spoke to and that are too shy to be noticed.
Therefore, if you are really eager to have a very diverse party, the only thing you have to do is so easy: you have to invite everyone. They may not be your best friends, they could even be too shy to say ‘hi’ when walking into the party, but it doesn’t matter. You do it. There are thousands of reasons why someone can be either shy or rude: by being nice you can’t make things worse. If anything, they become better and if not, well, you did your best by trying to be nice to them. But this is just the start. It’s not enough. We are not even close to the decency.
All right. Now you have your party, your music, your venue, and your guests. Are you done with the planning and can you just enjoy your night with your ‘BFFs’? Well, you can, of course, you can. However, you may not hear great things about your party the following week at work. Why so?
If you invite all your colleagues to the party, you are being a very good host: you are diversifying the list of your guests, you are apparently treating everyone the same way. However, if you stop it here, you are not being inclusive.
Inclusion is the following step, the next thing to do to ensure a better treatment to everyone. Being inclusive would result in talking to the guests you did not want to invite at first; being inclusive would mean spending time with people you never had a chance to hang out with because of a lack of interest by both parties.
This is what the corporate world doesn’t understand: you should not have 70% of black people among your employees if 98% of your board is made of white people: only 1% of the “Fortune 500” top leadership are black. 3 out of 500 (https://www.blackentrepreneurprofile.com/collections/black-fortune-500-ceos). You should also not be bragging about your company if the women to men ratio are 8 to 2 and 90% of the executive roles are still played by men. We all need to understand it. If we don’t, we can be as diverse as possible, but we will never make a positive impact on the world, we will never go towards a more inclusive world, and we will never avoid loneliness.