The aversion towards building a safe and inclusive workplace for employees in a workplace stems largely from a lack of knowledge. Corporate structures are unable to understand how diversity and inclusion mandates should be approached. This leads to them wholly ignoring the issue at hand.
Language plays an important role in building systems which are capable of being diverse and inclusive for employees in a workplace. Hence, a general understanding of the diversity and inclusion alphabet allows HR professionals and corporate structures to diversity and inclusion (D&I) mandates in a better way.
Starting conversations around diversity and inclusion helps organisations take on these issues head-on. Narratives that celebrate and incorporate differences among employees helps organisations attain an inclusive safe space while also optimising employee output.
Following are a set of diversity and inclusion alphabets that organisations must take note of to build a dynamic and growing working environment.
Ableism: This refers to the biased mindset that society harbours about an ideal structure for body and mind. This mindset plays into hiring practices as well as workspaces too where disabled employees face prejudice from recruiters. Moreover, a lack of accessibility also presents infrastructural hindrances to them.
Accessibility: Accessibility refers to spaces, resources and digital or physical environments that are not difficult to reach or use for everyone.
Affinity Bias: This refers to the bias that plays into everyday interactions. Affinity bias is when individuals choose to associate with those who are most similar to them. Moreover, this leads to a lack of accessibility to spaces of networking for minority groups within workplaces.
Affirmative Action: This refers to actions and policies taken by authorities that are in favour of groups and sections who face the brunt of discrimination.
Ally: Ally is a person who stands in solidarity with groups that have a clear lack of privilege compared to their own spaces of privilege. Allies take active part in building and rebuilding systems of oppression, sometimes at the cost of their own privilege.
Behavioural Diversity: This is how personal experiences help individuals unlearn orthodox belief systems. Individuals learn to acknowledge and make space for a diverse group of employees through their own interactions with those who are different from them.
Bias: These are a systemic belief system that comes into play while rationalising. With biases in place, an individual’s brain registers only presupposed judgements against certain groups. Consequently, this leads to unfair attitudes towards said group.
Cognitive Diversity: This refers to the different ways in which different individuals register information differently. Moreover, cognitive diversity also leads to different perceptions of information and situations for different people.
Conscious Prejudice: This refers to preconceived notions that are largely negative. Conscious prejudice acts against individuals who are part of larger groups and sections like social position, caste location or religious identity.
Corporate Social Responsibility: This refers to positive actions taken by corporate sectors for minority groups. This also refers to corporates going beyond profit generation to make impactful changes within their work spaces as well as for communities outside their work spaces.
Culture Fit: This refers to when an individual’s ideologies and values align with the larger organisation’s values and ideologies.
DE&I: Acronym for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Discrimination: While prejudice refers to the presupposed judgements one harbours towards a particular social group, discrimination refers to negative actions arising from the prejudice. Moreover, discrimination also refers to systemic behaviour that places certain social groups in a position of clear disadvantage.
Diversity: This refers to differences in cultural, behavioural as well as cross-functional knowledge.
Emotional Tax: This refers to an individual feeling out of place at work due to threats of bias. Moreover, this also refers to individuals feeling threatened for their gender identity, social position or ethnicity. Emotional tax also has effects on work output as well as general health and well-being for employees in workplaces.
Employee Resource Group: This refers to employee led volunteer groups that aim to create a diverse and inclusive workplace for all employees within the workplace.
Equality: Equality refers to giving same access and resources to all. This notions functions on the basis that everyone starts off on an equal footing. Moreover, equality also functions on the notion that everyone has access to equal opportunities while treating everyone in the same way.
Equity: Equity is referring to designing policies that acknowledge age old barriers still in place. This also means creating access and resources that are present to remove unique barriers. Equity functions on the notion that not everyone has the same kind of systemic obstructions in place.
Groupthink: This refers to a collective way of thinking that hinders individual thought processes. Groupthink also causes barriers to innovation within workplaces.
Inclusion: Inclusion refers to creating spaces and policies that provide access to resources and materials for individuals and groups belonging to diverse social categories. Moreover, inclusion also refers to empowering and valuing differences within workplaces and supporting said differences.
Intersectionality: This is when multiple identities exist in coalition. For example, a Dalit woman has intersections of caste and gender interacting in her experiences of workplace culture. Intersectionality also refers to acknowledging diverse identities while creating inclusive policies.
Microaffirmations: This refers to subtle gestures that are made to make an employee feel valued in the work they have done. Microaffirmations involve facial expressions, different tone of voice and so on that acknowledge an employee’s work while creating a sense of belonging.
Microaggressions: This refers to subtle exclusions that negatively impact someone. These may seem harmless on the surface but interact with larger systems of oppression.
Neurodiverse: This refers differences in neurological functioning. Neurodiversity also highlights learning and developmental disabilities like ADHD and Autism.
Prejudice: This refers to conscious or unconscious suppositions against a group of people. Consequently, prejudice also refers to attitudes and feelings one harbours towards certain individuals on the basis of them being part of a larger social group or against said social groups themselves.
Stereotypes: These are once again presupposed representations of a particular group. Stereotypes are cognitive representations of certain traits associated with certain groups.
An understanding of the diversity and inclusion terminology can help workplaces adapt better to capacity building practices. Training and awareness programs that not only work towards educating workplaces about these terms, but also put positive affirmations into action, need to be conducted.
In a remote working environment as well as in a rapidly developing workforce, DE&I mandates help HR professionals build better and safer work spaces for all their employees.