In an interconnected world the work of diversity and inclusion is vital to creating vibrant, successful organizations that are nimble enough to meet the challenges that rapid change presents. Having people in place who have experience with different cultures, value systems and ways of thinking allows leaders the opportunity to pursue business no matter the differences between organizations from dissimilar parts of the world.

Diversity is often misunderstood. It is so much more than a synonym for equal opportunity or affirmative action, and it is only part of the equation. You must have people from various backgrounds in place before you can take advantage of their experience and expertise, something essential in a global world. That is diversity, the first part of the equation. But to gain the full benefit of their understanding of difference from around the globe, these diverse people need to find a sense of belonging and a connection to the common goal of the organization. That is inclusion, the second part of the equation.

Without both halves the effort fails. Diversity does not serve its purpose if the people at the table don’t feel included in organization’s goals, that they have a significant role to play. Similarly, inclusion without difference has no meaning…who is to be included if everyone is alike?

Don’t let the word diversity catch you in a past paradigm. Look instead to the future, to a world where people from all backgrounds and many differences work together toward common goals using their different perspectives built from a world of difference to find organizational answers.

Steve Humerickhouse is executive director of The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, taking place March 17-19, 2015.

Find Your Answer
We invite you to join the conversation. All of the #FindYourAnswer questions have a unifying theme: they address business issues at the forefront of today’s business community that are frequently asked, but rarely addressed. This initiative is part of the Opus College of Business’ new call to action: one that fosters diverse perspectives and divergent views while focusing on practical, forward-thinking approaches to management challenges.

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About The Author

Clark Gregor has more than a decade of business marketing, communication and public relations experience, primarily in higher education, with shorter stints in corporate public relations and the federal government. At the University of St. Thomas he manages communications at the Opus College of Business and edits the university blog for graduate business programs, Opus Magnum along with other marketing efforts.

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