Which Should Come First, Diversity or Inclusion?

roosters in a fenced area
Individual contributors all the way up to CEOs are curious where to start when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Here's the brain-based answer.

Share This Post

Creating a D&I initiative at your organization is a bit like the chicken and the egg problem: Which comes first, diversity or inclusion?

On the one hand, diversity matters because it ensures multiple viewpoints and backgrounds will be represented. But inclusion also matters because it creates a culture of acceptance and engagement, no matter someone’s background.

So where to start? NLI’s Vice President of Consulting Khalil Smith tackled this issue recently in an article for Forbes.

“I get this question all the time as I travel the world, consulting with professionals and speaking with audiences about diversity and inclusion,” Khalil writes. “I hear from employees and team leaders, Chief Diversity Officer, and CEOs. They all want to know how to take D&I priorities and turn them into actual progress in how the company looks, feels, and operates.”

In reality, Khalil says, organizations should start with neither of them. They should really start with growth mindset, because in order to “teach an old dog new tricks,” as it were, employees need to see themselves and others a capable of change.

“That belief—that I, and others, can change—is pivotal as a foundation to any subsequent work around changing behaviors,” Khalil writes. “If I don’t believe we can change and grow, then why bother? If I do believe we can change and grow, then the sky’s the limit.

Then, Khalil says, you can set your sights on D&I. And in that regard, leaders can best help their teams with a primary focus on inclusion. As Khalil notes, leaders can first create the conditions for acceptance, and then double down on embodying that acceptance in the talent represented.

In other words: Growth mindset first, then inclusion, and finally diversity.

To learn more about how to put such a D&I strategy into action, check out Khalil’s full article on Forbes. Or to partner with NLI on developing your own strategy, check out our scalable learning solutions.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

More To Explore

Season 10

DE(A)I Part One: Mitigating Bias in Technology Adoption

In this special episode of Your Brain at Work, published to coincide with a presentation — delivered by Janet M. Stovall, our Global Head of DEI, and Matt Summers, our Global Head of Culture and Leadership — at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Talent Conference and Expo… they examine the emergence of AI through the lens of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — this time focusing on breaking bias.

Ready to transform your organization?

Connect with a NeuroLeadership Institute expert today.

two people walking across crosswalk

This site uses cookies to provide you with a personalized browsing experience. By using this site you agree to our use of cookies as explained in our Privacy Policy. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information.