Stealth Inclusion Revisited

Stealth Inclusion Revisited

In October of 2014 (almost ten years ago!) I wrote a blog post titled “Stealth Inclusion” wherein I argued that one way to overcome resistance to DEIA programs, especially by members of the C-Suite, is to call them something else.

I received push back by a reader who interpreted my methodology as deceptive to employees and so, I wrote a second post called “Stealth Inclusion Explained” explaining that I was not trying to use stealth to get employees to embrace their own diversity and inclusion, but rather those executives charged with driving their organizations’ missions, visions, and strategies.

As almost a decade has passed and resistance to the concepts of DEIA have exponentially increased, I thought it the right time to re-post these pieces. (links below)

Trillions of dollars have been spent on executive retreats during the past century. Many of those events have included first class travel, posh resorts, keynote speakers who are paid upwards of $100K, golf, massages, and more. I cannot recall one article complaining about these events, which were viewed as a necessary part of an organization’s operating expenses, which was given any credence.

Executive development has also been universally accepted by organizations who strive to remain competitive and relevant. 360 Assessments, executive coaches, and executive certification programs totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars annually have been the norm and again, an investment that corporations were expected to make.

‘Leadership development,’ ‘executive development’ and ‘strategic planning’ are considered to be non-negotiable line items even to the strictest CFO.

However, when we call a workshop “Inclusive Leadership” or “Inclusive Communication” and especially when we call it “Valuing Diversity,” the most common question is, “How much is this going to cost us?” Headlines and sound bites abound with how a government entity, academic institution, or for profit organization has spent an obscene amount of money on “Diversity.”

So, what is the engagement, retention, productivity, and morale of your employees worth? People will increasingly research potential employers to determine if they can expect to be valued by the leaders of a particular organization before accepting a job offer.

In 1991 Dr. Marilynn Brewer examined differentiation in organizations. She posited that a “High Value in Uniqueness” results in inclusive organizational cultures where people feel like they belong, and their unique capabilities are valued and seen as contributing to success. In other words, people experience feelings of belonging when they are valued for their diversity, not in spite of it.

There is abundant evidence to show that the more diverse and inclusive an organization is the more successful it will be. Organizations (the people who make up organizations) need to learn about the barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the history of those barriers, then they need to learn how to overcome those barriers. This is both a personal and an organizational process requiring an investment of resources; people, money, and time. (A lot less money than executive retreats to the Caymans, but still, some money.)

What is success worth to your organization? What is being competitive, vital, and relevant worth?

Corporations are not people, but are comprised of people. Beautiful, diverse people who have each taken a different path to their chosen careers and workplaces. They contribute to their organizations’ success in their unique ways. Let’s recognize that their ongoing development, including an ability to successfully navigate diversity, equity, inclusion, and access, is a necessary operating expense and create a budget line for it. What you call it is less important. If that is stealth inclusion, then be stealthy.

In my previous blog post I wrote that I will not be distracted. I encourage you to remain focused on your organizational mission, vision, goals, and strategies and not let yourself be distracted by sound bites and headlines amplifying disinformation.


Wendy Amengual Wark

January 24, 2024

“Stealth Inclusion”

“Stealth Inclusion Explained”



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