Inclusion and Diversity Model for Work Groups

Decorative: Diverse group of coworkers at a table together, smiling, inclusive

Diversity and Inclusion are important part of our workplaces and they’re a large part of many of the discussions we hear about on the news and in business circles today. There is a fantastic Inclusion and Diversity Model for Work Groups that I reference in my work. (View my Workplace Training Brochure.) And I think it’s also an important model for leaders, managers, even entrepreneurs who serve a diverse audience.

This model was researched and shared in the Journal of Management in 2011. The wonderful research by Lynn M. Shore, Amy E. Randel, Beth G. Chung, Michelle A. Dean, Karen Holcombe Ehrhart, and Gangaram Singh resulted in this very parsimonious model. (Which is a fancy way of saying it’s brilliant in its simplicity.)

It’s a two-by-two model that factors in two key values, Belongingness and Uniqueness.

As you can see, the result is four major quadrants of trust and inclusion.

1 Exclusion

As you would guess, exclusion has low values of both Uniqueness and Belongingness. What’s happening is that there is low value for an individual. You are saying, “You are different from me, and you are an outsider, instead of an insider. And it’s hard for me to respect and to include you.”

2 Assimilation

Assimilation, too, has a low value of Uniqueness. However, it has a high level of Belongingness. You are saying, “Oh, yes, I really respect your different values, your beliefs, your experiences. However, if you want to make it in this workplace, you need to conform to our values and our expectations.” This is just a more superficial kind of inclusion, and leaves many people feeling marginalized, they feel like people are valuing parts of them, but not all of them.

3 Differentiation

However, there are often those that are valued for their Uniqueness, but there is a low value of Belonginess associated with them. You are saying, “You are different, and I value your difference. But your difference comes with a sense of ‘other’ that keeps you from belonging.”

4 Inclusion

As our conversations would suggest, Inclusion is the goal. It is a space where the individual is valued for both their Uniqueness and Belonginess. You are asking them, “Lean in and have a voice and share your perspectives and your point of view and life. That has value to us all.” Inclusion is that high degree of valuing someone’s uniqueness, and then opening your heart, opening your mind, to also create psychological safety, where that person can belong in a group.

To  hear more about Diversity, Inclusion, and Strengths, watch the full video.

A big part of the workplace today is building the language of valuing and respecting our differences. But how much inclusion are we creating? How much belongingness are we creating?

Let’s all figure out how can we use our unique strengths to create more psychological safety in our teams, in our relationships, and in our workplace. Then, let’s begin to understand that there are various parts of this puzzle of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

And this inclusion piece has to do with belongingness and valuing uniqueness. And it’s important that we continue this discussion. So, if you have any questions and let’s continue this discussion about strengths, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

If you would like me to speak to your organization about diversity, strengths, or a whole host of topics, contact Brent.

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