Not all diversity initiatives are created equal

Why it’s important that diversity initiatives include everyone!

Ok, before we get started let’s take a look at the good old Cambridge dictionary definition of the word Diversity:

Diversity [Noun] - The fact of many different types of things or people being included in something; a range of different things or people.

Unless you’ve been hibernating in a cave somewhere for the past few years, you would have noticed that The diversity topic has been a prime area of discussion for quite some time now. There has been a lot of “noise” around this subject and I use the term “noise” to define what actually has been a lot of talk with very little action,strategy or solution behind it.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the term “diversity” means different things to different to different people. Unless you figure that out early on, you will leave many a meeting feeling confused, especially if your understanding of “diversity” favours the definition in the majority of English dictionaries.

My question is, should a diversity initiative that is not representative or inclusive of many different types of people be called a diversity initiative? And unless many ( i.e more than one) different type of people are “included” ( gender, race, background) can you really claim the title of being diverse?

Surely if  we are trying to enable a more “diverse” workforce, ecosystem or VC industry why do we have rooms full of the same people talking about diversity?  We usually end up with a room full of males or a room full of females, when we should really be striving for a room that represents that beautiful melting pot of diversity that our great city has to offer. A room that includes many different types of females and males. Shouldn’t the purpose of these initiatives be to engage people both male and female from a range of diverse backgrounds?

By and large gender diversity has been a prominent focal point. But all too often I attend a discussion on gender diversity without a man present. Can we really achieve gender diversity without including men in the discussion?

The barriers will still remain, until we learn how to develop an inclusive culture and working practices . Until this happens  we will never see those barriers shift entirely. The by product of an “inclusive culture” is diversity. We need to work harder on building initiatives that support us all working inclusively rather than exclusively to achieve better results.

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Paris Petgrave, Founder & Managing Partner