May 21, 2019

Why you should aim for inclusion, not just diversity

There’s a reason why companies don’t have tolerance initiatives. After all, tolerance is certainly preferable to intolerance but it’s not exactly a high bar. When we “tolerate” things, we’re usually suffering them silently, essentially allowing them to exist around us. The connotation is that if we had our druthers, we’d rather the thing we were tolerating be somewhere else but, hey, we’ll deal with it.

The thing is, back in 1990’s, “tolerance” was considered fairly progressive. We’ve come a long way since then. Since then, society has become largely more accepting. We’ve moved far from a time with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to one where gay marriage is the codified law of the land. Discussions about race and gender roles are happening out in the open. And though we have a long way to go, it’s worth remembering where we were just a few decades ago.

The change from promoting tolerance to promoting diversity is indicative of that shift. And for businesses that embrace diversity, the benefits are clear. We covered a good amount of that in our last post, but it’s worth reiterating here: essentially every relevant metric of business health and success improves when companies are more diverse. That’s a settled matter.

But really, when you sit back and look at it, diversity isn’t enough. A lot of companies understand this. It’s why you see an increased emphasis on not simply having different people with diverse backgrounds in your shop but instead of inclusion. To put it another way:

Tolerance is letting someone in the room. Diversity is giving them a seat at the table. Inclusion is actually listening to them.

More and more companies are realizing the value of inclusion. At Lingo Live, we see tons of them. These are organizations that value their diversity but that also want to make sure that their multilingual talent feels included in the decisions, direction, and success of their company. Pat Poehls from Eventbrite is a great example. He not only championed language learning for a team he managed in Argentina, he started taking Spanish lessons himself.

Going the extra mile there helps Pat’s colleagues in Argentina understand he truly values what they bring to the table. He doesn’t want them to just understand what the company needs; he wants partners who can share their authentic selves and their best ideas.

And that’s a crucial point. After all, every business in the world wants to be innovative. Every company wants to capture the new idea that will make their existing product better or upend the market. And you never know quite where those ideas will come from. Companies that foster inclusive environments show their employees that they care about what everyone thinks and feels and wants.

But that’s just the bottom-line reasoning. Inclusivity makes for happier employees and a more enjoyable work environment, not just for you or for employees that are  sometimes marginalized but for everyone. Inclusion just makes us better people.

And it’s one of the biggest reasons a lot of us at Lingo Live come to work every day. We believe in creating a world where everyone can bring their authentic selves to work and do the best world they can in the best environment possible. If you’d like to see what we can do to increase inclusivity and innovation in your organization, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to help.

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