There is a lot of talk in human resources circles about diversity and inclusion, but what does diversity and inclusion really mean in the workplace? Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global Communications and author of several books including Tapping into Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Global Companies Improve their Bottom Line by Employing Persons with Disabilities, joined me today for #WorkTrends to help us all understand how to fully define diversity and inclusion, and how to practice it within our organizations.

We discussed how broad the definition of diversity is, and the fact that 46% of the workers in the United States have a disability of some type. In her work with the United Nations on diversity issues, Debra saw that people with disabilities were often excluded from lists of those who needed to be incorporated into diversity and inclusion planning. There are also other components of the definition that are sometimes overlooked, she reminded us, such as age and invisible disabilities.

Diversity helps businesses fulfill their full potential in the workforce as well as on the balance sheet. As a McKinsey report noted, companies with diverse executive boards have higher earnings and better returns on equity. Diversity doesn’t just matter on the executive board, though–it matters organization-wide.

An employee benefiting from an inclusive environment is more likely to provide effective customer service. The benefits spread outward from the employee to those they serve.

Businesses also benefit from diversity because, along with the fact that it’s the right thing to do, they are setting themselves up for litigation if they fail to pursue diversification efforts. It’s not expensive to do the right thing, but it does take attention to policies and processes. That’s one area in which Debra’s organization specializes.

“Ultimately, we all need to think outside of the box”, said Debra. She provided a powerful framework for doing exactly that.

Here are a few key points Debra shared:

  • People with disabilities should be included in diversity and inclusion programs
  • Learning from one another is multiplied in diverse workforces
  • Qualifications are important; organizations shouldn’t look at hiring people with disabilities because it’s “nice” to do — they should hire people with disabilities who are the most qualified candidates
  • Diversity adds innovation to the workforce
  • The more diverse teams are, the better the organization’s bottom line will be

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here: http://bit.ly/2im54SG

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT).

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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