In 2018, I learned that the following two topics are of extreme importance: inclusion and storytelling. Both topics will lead us through the next wave of diversity, inclusion and equity. One of my key takeaways from the 2018 SHRM Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Conference in Atlanta was the power of storytelling and how it completes and electrifies a speaker’s presentation. Storytelling provides the audience with a personal message about the presenter which, in turn, helps the audience learn and better understand the significance of the story being told. This ultimately allows the audience member to bring what they learned to their organizations so they can initiate successful programs by implementing the best practices.
The Power of a Story
Natalie Egan (she/her/hers) was a presenter at the 2018 SHRM D&I Conference. Natalie is a transgender B2B software entrepreneur with over 20+ years of experience driving digital change and building/selling enterprise solutions. She is the CEO and founder of Translator.
Natalie told her personal and professional story in the beginning of her presentation. It was real, moving, and effective. Without her story, the presentation still would have been great but through storytelling, it was incredibly presented. It was REAL and HEARTFELT.
Diversity and Inclusion: We Need Both
Inclusion is essential for diversity programs and initiatives to succeed. Diversity is extremely important but diversity cannot sustain itself without inclusion. As David Lapin, CEO of Lapin International and author of Lead by Greatness, indicates in this WorkHuman article, The Missing Piece to D&I, “Building inclusive cultures when it is natural to prefer the company of people like us also takes effort and investment. Acknowledging the effort and investment that inclusiveness demands is precisely the missing piece in the D&I conversation.”
In addition, Joe Gerstandt presented at the D&I Conference and spoke about inclusion. Joe has worked with Fortune 100 corporations and speaks at numerous conferences about diversity & inclusion. He is a strong advocate for re-setting the diversity and inclusion conversation and sees these issues as poorly understood and often misunderstood.
Joe discussed inclusion and how it is an increasingly popular workplace goal while still remaining vague and an abstract concept in most organizations. As a vague and abstract concept, it is difficult for most organizations to reach a certain goal and learn how and what to measure along the way. Joe’s definition of inclusion is as follows: an active process of change (to include) and an experimental outcome (to be included). I couldn’t agree more, and I think storytelling is a way to create more understanding around the concept of inclusion.
Storytelling as a Vehicle for Inclusion
In 2019, I see inclusion finally being a topic that will be seriously addressed. According to a SHRM article, there are “6 Steps for Building an Inclusive Workplace.” They are:
- Educate Your Leaders
- Form an Inclusion Council
- Celebrate Employee Differences
- Listen to Employees
- Hold More-Effective Meetings
- Communicate Goals and Measure Progress
We live in a diverse society and need to appreciate our differences in a positive and effective manner. At the same time, we need to understand that diversity is extremely important but is not enough without inclusion. My prediction for 2019 and into 2020 is that inclusion and storytelling are going to be two topics that are going to connect intrinsically. In addition, storytelling will help spread the importance of diversity but it will also begin to introduce the extreme significance of inclusion.