Toward the end of the 20th century, the issue of diversity in organizations gained a prominent place in both academic and societal debates. Yet, management of diversity appears to be “a Herculean task, requiring much more than managerial enthusiasm, optimism, and good intentions.”1
Organizations that ignore diversity and creating an inclusive environment often struggle to retain talent. And due to this, many organizations have been proactive and have placed diversity and inclusion as a top priority to continue to succeed now and in the future.
Identity components (such as gender, ethnicity, and culture) are seen as static, fixed, timeless and barely changeable.2 This position has influenced the debates on diversity and inclusion from which we draw when looking at the current development of diversity. However, each organization must look inward to see what works best to foster good practices and also to sustain a healthy atmosphere for all staff members. Organizations must strive to encourage members to the goals of adopting diversity. Showcasing corporate efforts to include others often pushes the questions of exclusion to the background.3 In this way, inclusion of others becomes “a precarious one, for they never exist, they are allowed to exist”.4
In order to develop a long-time analysis of the benefits of diversity and inclusion, we need to adopt an integral approach to observe and trace process of power, cultural interaction, and incremental change at all levels, organizational culture (mission, vision, norm and values, etc), structure (rules, and regulations, promotion plans, policies), informal networks (social movements, subcultures), inter-group relations, and individual performances.5, 6This prevents the emergence of blind spots in understanding how the cultural, structural, individual, and informal processes produce and reinforce diversity and inclusion.
As individuals and organizations may have unique experiences and exposures with diversity and inclusion, organizations that establish and continue sustainable success now and in the future need to develop and embrace a safe environment that encourages diversity and inclusion. Imagine these scenarios to help put it in perspective:
A ship capsizes and divers are dispersed to rescue drowning passengers. It does not matter who the divers are, the safety of all passengers will be the priority. When a soldier is at the war front, it does not matter who covers him or her to safety, because no soldier should be left behind.
When it comes to patient diagnosis in a medical laboratory, it does not matter who reads the slides or performs other tests for the patient for quick turnaround to apply adequate diagnosis and treatment. We are stronger together because of the commitment and determination to excellently ensure patients under our care are safe and well served.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Public Health Service.