Defining E & I & D . . . And Belonging

Defining E & I & D- Engagement, Inclusion, & Diversity (updated 5.7.18 to add in Belonging)

I have recently moved into a new role at my company. When I have tried to explain to people what I am going to be doing I get a lot of blank stares and questions of what it means. Heck- I am still trying to define it myself! So, what is the role? VP of Engagement and Inclusion. I will also focus on our continued  diversity efforts. Altogether we are talking about Engagement, Inclusion & Diversity. Sounds fancy, huh?

For my non-HR friends (and maybe a few in HR), I want to start by defining what this means to me. What I have already figured out though, in talking to a lot of people, is that there is no single definition. So, Engagement, Inclusion & Diversity.

Engagement: No, I am not lining folks up who have recently become betrothed to give them a prize.

engaged parks and recreation 2017 parks and recreation amy poehler chris pratt

Employee engagement is making sure people like the work they are doing. It’s helping them feel good about driving the mission and vision of the company forward. You might say, “It’s a job. Who cares if they like it?” Gallup has done a study of over 50,000 business for over 8 years. The link to employee engagement and issues of  absenteeism, turnover, shrinkage, quality, productivity and profitability are staggering. I have outlined a few highlights below:

*37% lower absenteeism
* 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
* 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
* 28% less shrinkage
* 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
* 10% higher customer metrics
* 21% higher productivity
* 22% higher profitability

Business leaders are learning that employee engagement is no longer a nice to have. It is an imperative to be successful.

Inclusion: Inclusion is being able to come to work as your authentic self. As an employee, you know that you are safe and accepted and can do the best work of your life. This is not the dictionary definition but I feel good about it. This means that a new parent can take the time off they need to welcome a new baby without worrying about having a job. It means a black employee can look around the company and see other black employees. She will know that she can grow her career to the CEO level, if she’d like.  It means that an employee can share  that he has a husband. He will know that he is safe at work and that his peers will accept him. Being able to be yourself at work is important to engagement. It all ties together.

Diversity: No Ron Burgundy, just no. Diversity is not an old ship.

anchorman diversity old old wooden ship

But I understand his struggle since I believe, diversity is tough to define. It means different things for every single person, depending on their background. The most visible diversity dimensions are race/ethnicity, gender, and age. There are so many other dimensions that make up each individual though. Where you were born and raised. How many siblings you had. What your sexual orientation and gender identity path has been. What unseen physical and mental limitations you may have. What education plan you were on.  All these and so many more make up every human. You might share certain diversity dimensions of others on your team, but not all.  Then you layer on diversity of thought based on beliefs/ education/ and biases. When HR is looking at diversity, we usually focus on the more visible dimensions. We want to improve these dimensions because a more diverse team is going to be more innovative. Knowing this is the case, we also want to acknowledge that everyone is an individual. It is an interesting challenge, and many folks do not believe it is something that will ever be 100% solved. The world is shifting and we need to keep up.

Image result for secret handshake

Belonging: This is the feeling you get when you feel like you are part of the team. When you feel like you belong in an organization, you know the secret handshake. You know the norms of the organization and the unwritten rules. There is a sense of identity you get from belonging at an organization. “This company” becomes “we” and you learn to truly embrace the culture and people who are a part of your team.

I know some of you may read these descriptions and have feedback. I would love to hear your thoughts. As I mentioned up front, I am still learning and could use all the ideas and thoughts you have to help make me better at this work.

HR needs to drive improvements on engagement, inclusion & diversity. Let’s help each other.