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We need to talk about millennials and diversity in the workplace

woman at a computer and an escalator

At the risk of sounding brash or controversial, I’m just going to say it:

Traditional diversity and inclusion is dead.

Ok hold up. It isn’t dead, but the way we’ve been talking about it is.

We need to talk about cultural diversity in the workplace in a new way.

I get it. I’m a young white guy that doesn’t have to do deal with a lot of the struggles many do when it comes to diversity and inclusion. But, I do think it is my job to challenge how we talk about these issues and provide thoughts that could shape our workplaces of today and into the future.

For me, this conversation isn’t just about diversity and inclusion; it is about creating places to work that are enjoyable and inclusive, and places that we feel like we can go to and not that we feel that we have to go to.

Let me explain.

diversity in the workplace - man in suit walking

Typically when we talk about diversity and inclusion, the expectation is to check off a box so we have by-the-numbers diverse organizations and can tell people we have just that. We tell the public that we value diversity and have people of varying backgrounds and ethnicities.

Great, but does this diversity mean they are great places to work?

Not necessarily.

It helps ensure we have gender parity and a goal of equal workplaces – there’s no doubting that. If we hit this goal (which is admirable and has endless benefits for sure), it doesn’t necessarily mean that the workplace is more effective if we are just hiring to hit a number.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the benefits of work place diversity are widespread and tangible.

BUT, instead of talking about diversity in the traditional sense of ensuring that we have a certain amount of people who are a visible minority, or are male or female, maybe we should be focusing more on inclusion and a sense of belonging?

Yes this requires a lot of proactive work to understand who the individuals are that will be a good fit and in a way that builds community, but imagine a place of work where people are not only diverse and included, but also that they feel like they belong.

This is where we have the most work to do, but also where the most potential is. Just because we have a certain amount of people who are of a certain ethic background, or are a certain sex, doesn’t mean we have workplaces where people feel like they belong.

The most successful companies have created a culture of inclusion.

The interest of diversity and inclusion has seemingly piqued. While the conversation may not be as topical and interesting as it used to be, perhaps we need to change the conversation to create places of work where people are not only diverse (which we can check off in a box and hit a ‘quota’ of sorts) but also have a sense of belonging.

Considering not just the cultures of the people that work with us and where they come from, but also the culture of the places we work means that we have the ability to truly create a community and a place of work that allows relationships and friendships to be formed.

It means that as we do that one thing we do more than anything else in a day (work), but people don’t just sit in the same seat hour after hour with people because they check a box, but rather because they are part of wan organization they call family.

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Written by Eric Termuende

Eric Termuende is on a mission to change the way we talk about work ad get fulfillment from it. An author, speaker, and entrepreneur, Eric is currently Head of Brand for True Calling Canada, founder of Now Innovations, and the DRYVER Group., Eric has been featured in Forbes and the Huffington Post and Inc. Magazine. In 2015, Eric was recognized as a Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 globally by American Express. Eric sat as Community Integration Chair for Global Shapers Calgary, a community that functions under the World Economic Forum. Eric is a former Canadian G20 YEA Delegate, representing Canada in Sydney in 2014. Eric is currently signed by the National Speakers Bureau and travels the world talking about the future of work and multiple generations in the workplace. In 2016, Eric spoke at TEDxBCIT in Vancouver giving his presentation entitled ‘Bigger than Work’. Eric has worked and spoken with clients across the world. His new book, Rethink Work is now available on Amazon.

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