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What Is Diversity?

The center dimensions in our diagram (race, physical abilities, etc.) are usually visible and permanent traits.

The outside dimensions (education, economic status, job classification, etc.) are acquired and changed over a lifetime.

The Diversity Discipline deals with the qualities, experiences and work styles that make individuals unique—age, race, religion, disabilities, ethnicity, etc. — as well as how organizations can leverage those qualities in support of business objectives. Studies show that teams or organizations with greater diversity tend to have available a richer set of ideas, perspectives, definitions and approaches to a business issue.

Diversity provides the potential for greater innovation and creativity. Inclusion is what enables organizations to realize the business benefits of this potential.

Inclusion describes the extent to which each person in an organization feels welcomed, respected, supported and valued as a team member. Inclusion is a two-way accountability; each person must grant inclusion to others and accept inclusion from others. In such an environment, every member will tend to feel more engaged and more enabled to fully contribute toward the organization’s business results. This requires people from diverse backgrounds to communicate and work together, and understand each others’ needs and perspectives—in other words, cultural competence.

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