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AIA Diversity and Inclusion > Tools for Firms > Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

Workplace Diversity & Inclusion
By Sherry Snipes
Director, AIA Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity simply means different and inclusion is about ensuring that individuals are not “excluded.” Every person is different and unique. There is a tendency to think of diversity strictly in terms of race and gender; however there are many other aspects of diversity such as age, religion, national origin, physical abilities, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and education level.

The world around us is diverse and will increasingly become more diverse. Take a look at these key population projections:

    • The Latino population, already America’s largest minority group, will triple in size and will account for most of the nation’s population growth from 2005 through 2050. Hispanics will make up 29% of the U.S. population in 2050, compared with 14% in 2005.

    • The non-Hispanic white population will increase more slowly than other racial and ethnic groups; whites will become a minority (47%) by 2050.

    • The nation’s elderly will more than double in size from 2005 through 2050, as the baby boom generation enters the traditional retirement years. The number of working-age Americans and children will grow more slowly than the elderly population, and will shrink as a share of the total population.

    • Nearly one in five Americans (19%) will be an immigrant in 2050, compared with one in eight (12%) in 2005. By 2025, the immigrant, or foreign-born, share of the population will surpass the peak during the last great wave of immigration a century ago.

Let’s focus on diversity from the standpoint of inclusion. Inclusion simply put is the opposite of exclusion. Firms should consider all aspects of the business when considering whether or not you are diverse and “inclusive” by asking these questions:

  • Do all employees have access to opportunities?
  • Do you encourage interaction between groups/departments?
  • Do you recognize and embrace differences?
  • Is the leadership team diverse?
  • Do you hire people that only look like you?
  • Are you leveraging the value of “all” employees?
  • Are you excluding individuals from the decision making process?
  • Do you encourage new ideas and perspectives from all employees?

A firm can be diverse, but not inclusive. When this happens your employees may decide to leave the organization and work for a firm that is “inclusive.” Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a retention problem?
  • Are you struggling to keep high potential talent engaged?
  • Do women feel excluded?
  • Do minorities feel disenfranchised?
  • Do Generation Y employees come and go like the seasons?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you may have an inclusion problem.

A firm can be “inclusive,” but not diverse. When this happens, everyone may look pretty much the same, may have attended the same schools and/or have similar thoughts and ideas. This may result in a lack of creativity and innovation.

Firms, regardless of their size, can work towards being inclusive by exploring best practices techniques. You will need to examine your business to determine what works. Don’t be afraid to pilot a program. This enables you to test run a program and refine it before rolling it out across the organization.

Here are some programs to consider for creating an inclusive environment:

  • On-boarding/Orientation programs
  • Mentoring
  • Telecommuting
  • Flex-time
  • Job-sharing
  • Affinity Groups/Network Groups
  • Cross-functional teams
  • Engagement surveys
  • Diversity & Inclusion Training
  • Audit your organizational practices

Additional Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Resources

Watch Your Back
Workers learn a lot from their bosses’ mistakes. An article in The Conference Board Review outlines three examples that dramatically altered the way employees viewed their roles in relation to their bosses. More

Get a Life!
Total commitment to a company is totally wrong, asserts an article in The Conference Board ReviewMore

Work/Life Programs Thrive During Recession
"Being a flexible employer tends to pay off for the business." Employer-based survey results, actual practices and several new bills support this notion advocated by Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute. More.

The New ADA Standards: What You Need to Know
Watch and get continuing education credit for this AIA convention on presentation. This session explores the key differences between the new and old standards in a variety of building types and provides insights into developing compliance strategies. You can also listen to a 15 minute podcast on the topic.

Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact, Job Accommodation Network

Employment Status of the Civilian Noninstitutional Population by Sex, Age, and Disability Status, Not Seasonally Adjusted, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Methodology for Identifying Persons with a Work Disability in the Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau


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