Why Some Companies Are Saying ‘Diversity and Belonging’ Instead of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’


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By Jennifer Miller, New York Times

The changing terminology reflects new thinking among some consultants, who say traditional D.E.I. strategies haven’t worked out as planned.

Focusing on belonging in workplace diversity efforts aims to create bridges instead of fostering division (Focusing on belonging in workplace diversity efforts aims to create bridges instead of fostering division. (Olia Danilev/Pexels)

Woodward is a 153-year-old aerospace company that required its male employees to wear bow ties into the 1990s.

So Paul Benson, the company’s chief human resources officer, knew that creating a companywide diversity, equity and inclusion program would require a seismic shift. “Look at our org chart online, and we’re a lily-white leadership team of old males,” he said. But employees were eager for a more inclusive culture.

“People want to feel like they belong,” Mr. Benson said. “They want to come to work and not feel like they have to check themselves at the door.”

Last summer, Mr. Benson started searching for a diversity consultant who was up to the task. He hoped to find a relatable former executive “who had seen the light.”

Instead, a Google search led him to a Black comedian and former media personality named Karith Foster. She is the chief executive of Inversity Solutions, a consultancy that rethinks traditional diversity programming.

Ms. Foster said companies must address racism, sexism, homophobia and antisemitism in the workplace. But she believes that an overemphasis on identity groups and a tendency to reduce people to “victim or villain” can strip agency from and alienate everyone — including employees of color. She says her approach allows everyone “to make mistakes, say the wrong thing sometimes and be able to correct it.”

Read about Foster’s approach.

See also the DEIB approach of ABHM’s close collaborator, Nurturing Diversity Partners, winner of the Unity Award 2020.

Inclusion efforts have previously been criticized for failing to bring Black employees into the boardroom.

More articles about the struggles Black workers face.

More breaking news

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