Diversity would be nothing without Inclusion. This has been, for some reason, the conviction of D&I practitioners for the past five years. Before that, Diversity, valuing diversity, managing diversity, leveraging diversity were some of the paradigms illustrating different elements needed to create impactful and value-adding frameworks. So, what is
the big forward leap of Inclusion and would it be good or appropriate to concentrate on that piece for the next strategy cycle? If we first look at the nature of Inclusion, the concept clearly looks more at the ‘how’ of Diversity Management – in addition to the ‘what’ of diversity. Insofar, Inclusion refers to both communication and collaboration – all of which are interactive and observable. Accordingly, companies are aiming for inclusive environments that are characterised by inclusive language and inclusive behaviour, both individually and then collectively. In order to support this, the culture and the processes of an organisation need to be designed and implemented in inclusive ways as well – here comes a systemic element. With this, we have our typical D&I agenda in front of us: Changing systems that are – unintendedly – biased for historic and other reasons. And we might be inclined to say that a focus on Inclusion is adequate and promising. But do we know what leads to inclusive behaviour? Are we aware of the bridge between Diversity and Inclusion? Our didactic model of the Propelling Potential Principle shows that – according to the cognitive process – an open mind-set is required to link a rational starting point (the existence of differences) with the practical behaviours of Inclusion. Not only has this model been exceptionally successful in creating buy-in from (mostly male) managers, it has now been – once again – been confirmed by an academic meta analysis. That study shows that open-mindedness is the critical factor required to create added value from differences. This also confirms that the strong focus on removing different forms of bias is effective and needed. A sole focus on Inclusion does not make sense. What is needed in order to drive this approach successfully forward is a consistent separation, explanation and communication of diversity (differences), open-mindedness (attitudes/bias), inclusion (behaviours) and value-added (outcome/reward) – as opposed to, e.
g., putting ‘openness’ in the inclusion bucket.