What does “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” mean? Is it:
- A call for equal results, with nothing less being acceptable?
- A cry for equality under the law, reasonably equal opportunities, and visibility for everyone? Or,
- Empty virtue signalling, seeking attention and advantages for the signallers?
That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.
Let’s look at some definitions so that we can develop a shared vocabulary. I will start with the definitions used by those who are pushing this triad as the path to fairness.
- Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting referring to a diversity of identities, like race and gender, and, in some cases ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation.
- Inclusion is about people with different identities feeling they are being valued, leveraged, and welcomed within a given setting (e.g., your team, workplace, or industry).
- Equity. An approach that ensures everyone access to the same opportunities. Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist, and, as a result, we don’t all start from the same place. Equity is a process that begins by acknowledging unequal starting places and makes a commitment to correct and address the imbalance.
The assumption among those who keep repeating and emphasizing this triad is that these three are not only good things, but absolutely necessary to establish fairness. That we need to do whatever is necessary to establish all three–in full force everywhere–as soon as possible.
Diversity must mean more than a mix, representative of the surrounding population or not, of inherent characteristics like race and gender. We should be focused on creating diversity of talent and thought. And why do we want diversity of any kind in the first place? Is it to improve the quality of the products or services produced by the entity in question? Or is it to provide a pathway to being employed where someone would otherwise not be even considered? If the answer is anything other than improving the product or services offered, tell me where it is okay not to do that? Where it is okay to accept less than the best. In education? In government? With the plumber who comes to unclog your pipes? Or maybe the builder who constructed your home, of the company that built your car.
Inclusion. I admit to having a hard time with understanding why this needs to be, well, included. I am aware that some say, “Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” But I still don’t get it. If following the diversity principle triggered a hire that would otherwise not have been made, what does inclusion mean in addition to diversity? Does it mean that you do not ignore the contributions of that diversity hire? That you do not simply hire that person and put them on a shelf and ignore them? If that is what happened that would not be diversity in the first place. In education, if you hire teachers under the diversity principle, does inclusion mean that you actually let them teach classes as opposed to leaving them on some sort of academic probation? Still in education, does inclusion mean that if you admitted certain students under the diversity principle, that you would not ignore them when they had their hands up to ask a question? I posit that inclusion was included because three word phrases are punchier and more memorable than two word phrases. For example, many have heard the principle that you can have quality, speed and low cost; pick two. Inclusion was added to make for a punchier slogan. A better bumper sticker. And a more impressive title, e.g., Vice President, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And most of the time, what really gets included is more staff, more costs and more red tape.
Equity. This one is the easiest to understand, and to debate:
- We are all equal under the law. Period.
- We will never all have the same opportunities. Not all of us can be 6’ 6” tall and athletic enough to play in the NBA. Not all of us have parents who can afford to pay private school tuition from preschool through grad school. Not all of us have two devoted parents in the same household who are willing to do the hard work of raising us correctly. But all of us have sufficient opportunities that we can lead productive, satisfying lives–if we are willing to work hard over time.
- Equal results are not only impossible, but wrong. You can have equal results or freedom, but not both. And the more you push for equal individual results, the lower the total results, the lower the total productivity, will be. And these continually declining results will be shared by all. With a relentless downward spiral.
The core issue with the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion triad is that these are tactics, not a vision, not overall strategic goals–or even anything close. Here is an example of a vision, an overall strategic goal: Learn how to navigate and succeed in the necessarily hard lives we all live. And learn well enough to help others to do the same. To start with, we must reject the notion that life is meant to be easy, and that if it is not, something is wrong and must be addressed. Usually with taxpayer money.
Once past the hard/easy hurdle, let’s look at two core principles that guide Revolution 2.0™.
- Personal Responsibility; take it, teach it and,
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper. The answer to the biblical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a ringing, unequivocal “Yes.” There is no other answer.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are good things, but cannot be the driving force behind the thinking or policy of any business, institution or governmental entity. Don’t forget any of these concepts, and apply them where they make good sense. But don’t let them take over and run everything.
Oh, BTW, my answer to the initial question is 2. A cry for equality under the law, reasonably equal opportunities, and visibility for everyone.
Where do you stand? What are you going to do? Remember, it does not matter where you stand if you don’t do anything.
As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14
As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook, facebook.com/will.luden, and LinkedIn, www.linkedin.com/in/willluden/. And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.
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