When people ask me what the difference is between the words diversity and inclusion I explain that diversity is a statement of fact, (think of the diverse group of objects on your desk.), while inclusion is an action (placing the objects on the desk is necessary if they are to be included). We may be included in a group without being invited, but the most successful groups are those that are comprised of people who have been invited to participate because of what they potentially offer the group and who accepted the invitation because of what the group potentially offers them. (See my May 2nd blog entry, “Interdependence”) Think of the value an “A List” guest speaker brings to a conference or event.
We all want to be invited to the party, to the table, to the adventure! Once the invitation or job offer is accepted however, many organizational leaders fail to invite employees to make the most of their group membership. Think of the thousands of gym memberships that have gone virtually unused because the owners of the gyms failed to motivate their members to attend the gym regularly. The most successful leaders invite employees to contribute to their organization’s success on a continual basis and acknowledge those contributions publicly. This does not mean that every idea dropped in the ‘employee suggestion box’ has to be implemented. Those ideas need to be acknowledged, however, and if they are implemented, rewarded. When employees are invited to contribute to an organization’s innovation and success both the individual and the group can reach their full potential.
There have been many invitations asking us to contribute to one cause or another. Uncle Sam, for example, was first used as a recruitment tool for World War I in 1916. This image is still quite familiar to most Americans. The message is personal, pointing directly at YOU. A different call to action was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King invited us to participate in the greatest non-violent revolution in our nation’s history. His was not an exclusive invitation. He did not invite only the oppressed to stand up for their rights, as they had the most to directly gain by acquiring historically denied civil rights, but he invited all of us to contribute to creating a healthier, more productive, more peaceful nation regardless of the color of our skin or our abilities. What other invitations have inspired you to act?
An Invitation to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion’
Tuesday, May 21stis the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and we are all invited to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion!
The 2013 campaign, by encouraging people and organizations from around the world to take concrete action to support diversity, aims:
- To raise awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion.
- To build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and every day-life gestures.
- To combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.
The campaign works through a dedicated Facebook page, serving as a platform for people around the world to share their experiences through posts and videos.
Here are some things that you can do in response to this invite:
- Invite people from another culture to share a meal with you & exchange views on life.
- Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
- Watch a movie, listen to music or read a book from another country or religion.
- Read works by the great thinkers of other cultures (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna,
Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi, or Frances Wright).
So, how will you respond to this invitation?
Share your experiences and learn more about this initiative on the UN’s Facebook page: Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion
I look forward to learning about your adventures in diversity and inclusion. Please let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below and of course, if you are planning to do one thing we would love to know about it.
By the way, I am always open to invitations!