What is Inclusion? - Definition & Meaning

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  • 0:03 Diversity vs Inclusion
  • 0:42 What Does Inclusion Mean?
  • 2:15 Importance of Inclusion
  • 3:39 Understanding Inclusion
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Did you know that a business can be diverse without being inclusive? It's true! In this lesson, we'll talk more about what inclusion means, why it's important, and what it might look like in a growing organization.

Diversity vs Inclusion

As the owner of a large business in his hometown, Ted has worked doubly hard to build a diverse workforce that represents people from all walks of life. Employees of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages and religion make up his 100-person team because he knows that diversity means good things for customer satisfaction, decision making, reaching goals, and growing his business.

The only problem is, Ted's business isn't inclusive. What? How's that? How can a business be diverse, but not inclusive? Let's take a closer look.

What Does Inclusion Mean?

There's a lot of chatter today about diversity in the workforce, and that's a good thing. Diversity, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), means ''the collective mixture of differences and similarities that includes, for example, individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences and behaviors.''

So, Ted's workforce that includes women, different races, a mixture of older and younger employees, and people with different levels of education or skill sets is a good example of diversity at work. It means that Ted's workplace environment should boast diverse perspectives, thoughts, and ideas that help the business succeed.

Except, that's not what's really happening.

Even though Ted is embracing the idea of diversity, he's failing at inclusion. Inclusion, the SHRM says, is ''the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization's success.''

Inclusion means that a diverse pool of employees are respected and valued, allowing them to reach their full potential while contributing to the success of the business as a whole. So, if diversity is represented as various puzzle pieces, inclusion represents what the puzzle looks like when everything is pieced together. In short, you can work in a diverse environment without working in an inclusive one.

Importance of Inclusion

Becoming an inclusive workplace is important for a number of reasons. First, inclusion plugs the talent gap. With entire generations retiring from the workforce, it's critical that businesses find qualified and talented people to pick up the torch and help grow a business.

Second, inclusion improves the decision-making process. Imagine having a room full of people with the same backgrounds, experiences, and ideas. There would be no one there to present a contrary viewpoint or draw from different life experiences to challenge people to think of things in a new way. People of different backgrounds help innovate and create solutions to problems. Working with people of varying backgrounds gives everyone an opportunity to learn and grow.

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