BNMC’s Community Program Manager, Kyria Stephens, recently attended the National Diversity and Leadership conference in Dallas, TX. Check out his thoughts on the meaning of diversity and inclusion, and how it creates an innovative, collaborative community.

Diversity and Inclusion Drives Innovation

When you hear the words diversity and inclusion, what do you think? How do you define it? My answer sounded like, “creating environments and pathways for women and minority groups to thrive in the workplace?” But after attending National Diversity and Leadership conference in Dallas, Texas, I realize that answer is only the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, diversity and inclusion are about creating an emotionally safe work environment in which a person doesn’t have to check their ethnicity at the door to fit in with the dominate culture. Yes, D&I is about making sure that the workplace reflects what the world really looks like at every level. Yes, it is about equal pay for people who do the same job. Yes! Its about doing the right thing for all people… But as I sat and reflected on amazing workshops and poured over the notes I took from keynote speakers, Colin Powell, America Ferrera and President Barak Obama, I realized that diversity and inclusion at its core is about filling blind spots and gap with people with unique vantagepoints.

One of the phrases that echoed throughout the conference is that diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. This world doesn’t have a problem with diversity! Just look around and you will see diversity because it happens naturally when all people have access to a space. The problem we have is inclusion. The reason we have inclusion problems is most often because people naturally gravitate to people who look like, think and view the world the same as themselves. But, when that happens our perspective becomes narrowed. A person’s ethnicity, culture, gender, education, past experiences and personality creates a unique lens that produces a different perspective. Diverse perspectives allow for a greater vision, a greater vision and creativity go hand in hand and where there is creativity there is innovation.

So, without D&I we are limiting growth, slowing advancement and hindering innovation!