• Cathy Holt

Diversity without Inclusion 'compounds' disparities

Author: Marissa Trevino, Principal/Co-Founder at Cause@lytics

Growing up bilingual, I’ve always been fascinated by words in English and how combining them with one another can create new meanings. For example, I love compound words. Two words that separately stand passively by themselves are suddenly thrust into strong action when paired with a partner. Kickboxing, soundproof, horseplay, handshake, bodyguard.

All these words evoke the understanding that a specific action takes place when these two words join forces. So, it strikes me odd that the term ‘diversity,’ the politically correct buzz word of the pandemic era, isn’t a compound word.

By itself, diversity is nothing more than a measure or observation of how much a group of people is the same or different. It’s pretty weak by itself. Yet, the assumption by many, is that if an organization issues press releases touting how they are prioritizing diversity in their company, then it’s assumed that organization is taking action to create a diverse workforce.

Yes and no.

Yes, an organization that hires people of different genders, ethnicities, ages, races and abilities/disabilities is building a workforce comprised of diverse individuals. But if that same organization holds stereotypical expectations of their diverse hires, and falls back on relying on the proverbial ‘good ol’ boy network’ within that organization, then to say it’s a diverse workforce isn’t completely true. At least, not in the sense we expect the word diversity to mean today.

To drive home the point, ‘diversity’ needs to be a compound word! Like diversity-inclusion or equal-diversity. Admittedly, any word created is going to be a mouthful. Hopefully, some talented wordsmiths can come up with a punchier compound word, but the essential meaning of the action should be immediately clear. Using diversity in a compound word should makes today’s assumption about the meaning of the word ‘diversity’ true.

If an organization is executing a diversity-inclusion/equaldiversity strategy then that means a diverse workforce is being sought to not only diversify the personnel but enhance the skillset and perspectives of that organization in a meaningful way.

When I look back on one of my first jobs in the print media business, I’m reminded of just how ‘unmeaningful’ diversity can be to an organization.

I was working for a city children’s magazine as an assistant editor. I was the only Latina on staff. My daily duties were to edit and clean up freelance columns and articles. A job that can become mundane over time. Yet, as most journalists working as an editor, I harbored the desire to be allowed to write SOMETHING under my own byline.

One day, the editor told me she had spoken with the publisher and they wanted me to write a column for the magazine!

While I created a mental list of topics to propose, my editor told me a topic had already been chosen — Cinco de Mayo. I was to write how Latino families celebrated the day. As anyone who yearned for further writing opportunities, I dutifully wrote the column — and waited for my next assignment. It eventually came but it was another ‘culture’ column, as I like to describe them.

Unfortunately, that experience isn’t unique for many Latino writers working in media. More often than not, Latino surname reporters are assigned to cover issues pertaining to the Latino community. Breaking out to cover other beats can be an uphill battle for too many.

In one of the few industries where a workforce reflective of the rich diversity of the nation should be a prerequisite for putting out balanced news stories, it’s very much an industry still struggling to meet those goals.

It’s struggling, like so many industries, because of a systemic bias against people who fit the definition of diversity. For whatever reason, diverse hires are seen to be not as capable, quick, smart, qualified or expected to get the job done. There’s an automatic expectation that their work is subpar to that of their white male colleagues.

Until that bias is addressed, organizations will fail at achieving true diversity. Instead, they will only accomplish creating a diverse workforce where uneven opportunities for promotions are the norm and low employee morale is an accepted byproduct of a politically correct. diverse workforce, where not everyone’s uniqueness is appreciated or tapped to its fullest potential.

Marisa Treviño is a former news media veteran turned AI conversation designer providing companies/nonprofits with message solutions using AI-enhanced conversation design and data analytics to help organizations optimize customer engagement and gather and analyze relevant data for mission and goal success. Via her new company Cause@lytics, a woman-owned, international AI company providing services in both English and Spanish.

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