Diversity Terms – 9 Essentials

Do You Speak the Language of Diversity?

by Richard T. Alpert, Ph.D.

  • Diversity
  • In the United States, diversity generally refers to the advancement of traditionally underrepresented groups, defined by race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age. When companies speak about hiring or promoting for diversity, they generally mean hiring or promoting more women, Blacks, Latinos and Asians.

    Corporate diversity includes all these underrepresented groups and can include consideration of diversity of background, age, class and thought. Corporate diversity efforts have been most accurately measured and assessed for the past 14 years by The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

    For complete access to essential diversity terms, reports and more, please see our Diversity Resource Center

    Examples of the types of metrics that are most effective in improving the diversity of demographicsinclude diversity dashboards for senior leadership and assessing engagement. These can be found in a Web Seminar featuring Sodexo (the No. 1 company in the 2013 DiversityInc Top 50) and BASF (No. 31).

  • Inclusion
  • An increasingly popular term, both in the United States and globally, inclusion is defined as including people from all groups. Diversity and inclusion, also often called D&I, have become increasingly popular terms in corporate America. The specific inclusion of white men in diversity initiatives is encouraged by these words.

    The popular column Ask the White Guy, written by DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, often explores issues of inclusion of white men. Best practices from companies including General Motors (one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies), KPMG (No. 23 in the Top 50) and Cox Communications (No. 22) stress clear communications from the top and use of employee resource groups to further inclusion of white men and middle managers

    For a list of all upcoming diversity events and holidays, please see our Diversity Calendar

  • Affirmative Action
  • Affirmative action is based on the legal concept introduced in the 1960s to factor “race, color, religion, sex or national origin” in employment, education and business to improve representation of underrepresented groups. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions, but there have been several state and national challenges. The current Supreme Court has remanded a case to a lower court that challenges this decision.

    In discussions of affirmative action, corporate leaders sometimes ask whether diversity goals are equivalent to quotas and, thus, potentially illegal. Information on the best practices and valid metrics used to recruit and increase diversity in the talent pipeline—and why they are not quotas—can be found in DiversityInc’s Meeting in a Box on Pipeline Development/Recruitment.

  • Workplace Diversity

This is a common term for increased racial/ethnic/gender representation in a company’s entire workforce. Best practices show increased workforce diversity is usually accomplished through demographic goals set by an executive diversity council, strong diversity recruitment efforts, and use of employee resource groups and talent-development initiatives aimed at underrepresented groups.

For diversity training tools, please see our Diversity Training Videos

The DiversityInc Top 50 survey measures workforce diversity by race/ethnicity, gender and age. It assesses progress by comparing the current workforce demographics to new hires and to first promotions into management.

The companies on this list emphasize the creation of an inclusive workplace, where new hires are comfortable “bringing their whole selves to work.” As an example, Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of ADP (No. 27 in the Top 50), discussed the critical role of top leadership in enforcing the message of inclusivity throughout the organization.

This is part 1 of ‘Diversity Terms – 9 Essentials.’ Sign up for our newsletter to receive Part 2 and other expert advice.

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