Updated: Jan 26, 2021
We live in a society that values exclusivity. Private clubs, private yachts, secret doors, luxury memberships, the list goes on and on. Exclusivity is a choice similar to inclusion. I’ve said it many times before diversity is a fact, while inclusion is a choice. Let’s explore the difference between exclusivity and inclusivity. While both start with a choice, only one can do irreparable damage to a person for no legitimate reason. Being born of color should not mean you are left out or omitted, yet it happens every day.
In the latter part of 2020, we saw a surge in public promises surrounding diversity and inclusion, and sadly there are blatant undertones of exclusivity. Allow me to make this painfully clear - right now, if you are a black person, you certainly have more “value” in a corporation than you did this time last year. Yet, that “value” is merely about meeting a certain percentage of diversity hires. It has nothing to do with real inclusion within that corporation. And that, my friends, is a huuuuge problem. We are witnessing alarming numbers of blacks being hired for merely being black, also a problem. Every corporation’s goal should be to even the playing field and remove the barriers for qualified black employees to gain meaningful employment within organizations that previously created obstacles. PERIOD.
Many of those same organizations are rapidly bringing on minorities, particularly blacks, to reduce the risk of appearing like a racist organization.
People create racist organizations, not the other way around. This begs a few questions, what are leaders inside of organizations doing to dismantle racist behaviors? What systems have been implemented to ensure employees feel included and welcomed? Are executives taking time to ask their employees questions? Is there an investment internally to gauge the temperature of inclusivity in work in the organization? Or is it all a show?
Inclusion - like exclusivity could be just for appearances. Truth is that what matters is how you make people feel, not just what you say you’re going to do, but how you honestly make them feel. And if any of you have been paying attention right now, employees feel exhausted, and mocked, especially your black employees. Many don’t feel that they can be honest about what they’re feeling or what they’ve experienced. They don’t feel they can express how painful it is to witness people justify actions of hatred. Your black and minority employees know they can’t share that their boss singles them out for the littlest things. So again, the question is, what is management doing to address those issues? What are they doing to create inclusivity?
This is the difference between exclusive and inclusive. For the most part, executives and many non-minority employees are a part of an entire group that isn’t burdened with the problem of “inclusion.” Meanwhile, employees of color are always aware that although they work for the company, they are not a part of the company. That, my friends, is a Culture problem. Culture decides whether or not inclusion or exclusion is acceptable because, again, remember, inclusion is a choice. So if the company culture is OK with excluding, the exclusion happens. But if the culture is not OK with exclusion, then inclusion happens. Understand the difference? And guess who sets this culture? You guessed it. It starts at the top.
So let’s stop making excuses and start holding leaders accountable.