I think it’s important to firstly recognise that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ mean different things.
Diversity just means difference. In a workplace, this means having people who are different from each other, in relation to protected characteristics (eg race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability etc), background (eg socioeconomic background, class, educational background) as well as ways of thinking and working, personalities, approaches, and so on. Diversity is not always visible.
Inclusion is about how people feel. To me, an inclusive environment or workplace is one where within a diverse group of people, everyone feels comfortable being themselves and are supported to thrive and succeed.
There is a risk that the term ‘D&I’ gets thrown around in a vague and often tokenistic way. To do this work properly, we need to go beyond general ‘inclusion’ and work specifically (and intersectionally) to achieve justice and equity relating to race, disability, LGBTQIA+ identities, gender and socio-economic background, as well as other important aspects of identity and experience. This involves having important and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about privilege and power in our society, as well as our workplaces.
D&I is a complex, ever-evolving area, and so I am always listening to and learning from a variety of lived experiences, research and best practice. I don’t have all the answers and I haven’t always got it right, but I’m always looking for opportunities to learn and do better. I am forever grateful to those who I continue to learn from.