We ignore history at our peril if we are interested in building bridges of inclusion. We can take many lessons from the USA when we examine its history, plus what works well and what does not in the third largest country in both population and area. The history points to the real “melting pot” of immigrant culture that must be acknowledged, understood, and respected as a starting point when we develop and implement diversity policy. This is fleshed out by an appreciation of the complex mixing of cultural backgrounds and the fluid interplay of ethnic evolution. How people identify is important and does not materialise in a vacuum.
We need to resist the temptation to make simplistic geographical assumptions, but the general past of the West, Midwest, North East, and South do play a significant role in influencing some underlying challenges. These need to be confronted meaningfully, as potential obstacles and enablers, to move towards our ambitions to be fully inclusive.
Linking past, present, and future
It would for example be a mistake to brush over the South’s history of slavery and civil war thinking that anger and hostility do not persist. If paying special attention to justice, equality, and equity is not an integral part of the overarching diversity and inclusion policy, failure is inevitable. We must be prepared to deal with sensitive issues deeply and come up with solutions that give real restitution and opportunity to all. The reward will be far greater than the renowned Southern hospitality. Much goodwill flows from being heard on the ills of the past that caused pain, hardship, and hurt and a genuine undertaking to not repeat history in new guises.
Recognition of what remains important to people cannot be underestimated if we want to create a genuine sense of belonging within organisations. The goal is not to sanitise life to avoid any psychological or emotional challenges or avoid conflict. Building bridges of inclusion involves learning to incorporate and make space for the values and passions of others insofar as they do not infringe on the rights of others.
Working for everyone
Workplace diversity policy USA should in truth be wholly compatible with the unalienable rights enshrined in the constitution to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. When we develop and implement diversity policy, we need to keep in perspective that we are dealing with all of these in relation to individuals, groups, and the broader social community. For this reason, when we develop and implement diversity and inclusion policy, nothing can be artificial. It requires an intimate engagement with every aspect of the organisation to really establish what will win the hearts and minds of its people and give them a genuine sense of liberation to pursue the best life possible within what can be offered in an organisation on a reciprocal basis.
Workplace diversity policy USA must reflect the real ambitions of the composite of a specific organisation’s people. No two policies should ever look exactly the same if they are the product of proper authentic engagement to secure inclusion. In fact, once organisations have drafted their diversity and inclusion policies, it is good practice to consult broadly on its acceptability with the intent to get further input and improvement before adoption. If the process of its creation has been robust and guided by professional expertise, in all probability, it will be enthusiastically welcomed as an improvement on the status quo and a meaningful step forward.
Each organisation must constantly survey how well policies are working for their people. Just as in the Spring 2016 Global Attitude Survey by Pew Research Centre, 58% of Americans said growing diversity makes their country a better place to live (higher than 10 European countries surveyed), feedback is critical. It provides insights to support the choice of direction and positive change. We need to keep our fingers on the pulse of the past, present, and potential future if we are to revise policies regularly to remain relevant and effective.