Diversity Is Useless Without Inclusivity

Christine M. Riordan, Harvard Business Review

Updated GOAL Academy


Diversity is great…but not without inclusivity. In this Harvard Business Review article, professor Christine Riordan reveals the benefits of pairing diversity with inclusion and explores four reasons why many organizations lack inclusivity.

What You’ll Learn

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the organizational benefits of diversity
  • Define what an inclusive environment means
  • Comprehend the importance of pairing diversity with inclusion
  • Recall four factors that work against inclusiveness

Dig Deeper

After reading the article, reflect on the following questions. Jot down your thoughts.  Consider sharing this video with a colleague or a work group for an insightful discussion.

  1. What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?
  2. According to the author, a diverse environment is useless without inclusion. Name one or two reasons why coupling diversity with inclusion is so important.
  3. Consider your workplace. Which, if any, of the four dynamics that work against inclusiveness are in play at your workplace? How does this affect organizational systems and goals?
  4. Name one or two ways you can improve inclusivity in your workplace.

NOTE:  There is a limit of viewing 4 online articles per month at Harvard Business Review without a paid subscription.  If you click on the link to this article, it will count toward your limit.

Write a Review

  1. Our unit has been working toward understanding diversity and inclusion by encouraging employees to participate in webinars and other engaging educational material. Growing up, I was colorblind however I noticed distinct behaviors among certain people. I had clue that I was different from anyone else until I first experienced subtle bias at a previous place of employment, which made me realize that others did not share my inclusive perspective of others.
    This experience provided me with real life experience of how a diverse environment is useless without inclusion. Prior to experiencing the subtle bias, I felt energetic and enthused about my job, co-workers, and the company. After the experience, I felt separate, I had doubt about my co-workers and their intentions. I no longer had trust in my management or the organization for allowing the negative tones in conversations to exist in a professional setting. As a result of no feeling included, I looked for and moved to a new job shortly after.
    Oddly enough, I would come to experience the subtle bias again at my current unit. I failed to recognize it or better said I refused to accept it, because it was someone that I highly respected and was a leader. I rationalized the feelings of disparity and neglect due to being a new position, title, and location and that my leader was distracted with many duties and tasks. The continued bias negatively impacted my energy, focus, and contributions to the organizational systems and goals?
    One way that I sought to improve my inclusivity in the workplace was to have a direct conversation with the person I perceive as having subtle bias against me and work towards a mutual understanding of my perceptions and needs. I have to say that the person displayed shock and regret and acknowledged other distractions and influences on their behaviors. This was followed by a sincere apology and an effort to improve communication and inclusion. This was a growing experience for me and one that I was able to have because of previous communication training through the NPS.

  2. Rating:

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