Michael Bach lives in Toronto, a diverse city, which has as one of its mottos, “Diversity is our strength.”
Bach, CEO of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, added onto the city’s slogan. He made it: “If diversity is our strength, inclusion is our superpower” to illustrate that it’s not enough to have diversity.
“We have to create spaces where people can not only exist but can be welcomed,” he says in Episode 114 of the CUES Podcast. “They won't face racism, violence, sexism, homophobia, etc.—and I think that … to make sure that our spaces are welcoming, we need inclusion as our superpower. It's our special strength, this thing we can do that will get the most out of our people, that will create higher levels of engagement and productivity. It is the secret sauce, if you will, on top of diversity … .”
Bach defines “diversity” as being about difference and “inclusion” as being about creating a space where differences are welcome.
Diversity “is about all of the things that make a person unique,” he says. “We tend to historically look at underrepresented or marginalized groups: women, people of color, people with disabilities, Indigenous people or Native Americans, LGBT people. But the truth is, the word diversity is about difference of all kinds. And that includes straightway, able-bodied men, not to say that they're marginalized or underrepresented. That's not the point. It is to say that they are different from me. As a gay man who lives with a disability, they are different from me. And so, diversity is about all the things that make you different.”
In contrast, inclusion is about creating a place “where people can come to work or go to a community center or a school or a credit union and be welcomed and be embraced for who they are,” with all of their differences, from everyone else.
Bach cites talent as the No. 1 reason organizations need to focus on diversity and inclusion.
“If you look at the numbers, and I'm going to do these off the top of my head … people of color in the United States make up roughly about 40-42% of the available workforce, and in Canada, it's about 23%,” he explains. “If you look at the number of women who have graduated with undergraduate degrees, it's now 60% of undergraduate degrees are taken home by women … . If you just look at the sheer numbers, you cannot tell me that if you look at an executive team that is predominantly or exclusively straight, white, able-bodied men, that you actually have the best and the brightest. You don't. Statistically, you don't because you don't have a representative amount of talent. So, the No. 1 reason (for diversity and inclusion) is about talent. It's about making sure that you are in fact hiring and promoting the best and the brightest.”
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