Diversity and Inclusion. Do these occur for you like trendy buzz words, bandied about like Sustainable and Organic? Do you really understand what they mean and why they are important? I’ve been playing around with this in my head as I embark on my new business as a human resources consultant in restaurants. Everyone wants to be diverse and inclusive, but what does that really mean? How do restaurant owners implement inclusion as culture in their businesses?
I’ve been doing some reading up, applying what I’ve read to what I’ve experienced and thinking of ways to fit that into the conversation in the hospitality space. It is clear that we are diverse but diverse in a way that pigeonholes workers into positions. This is a generalization but on average, restaurant employees get darker-skinned the deeper into the restaurant you go. Within our own little worlds there is gender and race discrimination which is very much a factor of our diversity. We are diverse yet still can be very segregated. What’s missing is inclusion.
Much has been written for the corporate environment about D & I (as HR folks call it) but how do we address this in our industry? If we can create inclusive work environments, I believe this is where the industry transforms.
First we acknowledge the importance of diversity. Diversity is a reality. Our world is diverse. We celebrate diversity. In the corporate environment, diverse opinions generate fresh ideas. Also, with greater diversity in a group, disagreement is expected and there is a greater need for constructive problem solving. However, in the corporate environment, hiring is often done by looking at a certain template for success. Using a template such as education may favor one group over another, squelching diversity. Having an MBA from an Ivy League institution might be viewed as essential for success by some managers when in fact, that may not be the case. There may be an implicit bias that is thwarting success. It might be more beneficial to the team to broaden the definition of success by asking what value an individual brings to the team.
So what is inclusion? Inclusion is the culture you create that values diversity. Inclusion is about examining implicit biases that exist within all of us, whether we like it or not. By creating policies for advancement and training, you create inclusion as a culture. It can look like a practice of having regular team meetings to discuss issues that come up, culinary teams and hospitality teams. It can look like a practice of pooled tips. It can look like offering ESL courses for your employees.
I have written here about issues like sexual harassment and the need to model ethical behaviors. All of these issues can be addressed through developing a culture of inclusion.
Here is my shameless plug! I am currently raising funds for my tuition to eCornell’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program through a GoFundMe page here. I am offering free workshops and trainings to donors, so if that appeals to you, please donate! I would be so grateful for the opportunity to work with you using what I’ve learned.