Cathy Nestrick (she/her)
DEI Leader / Co-Host, Parity Podcast; Former VP and General Counsel, Berry Global Group, Inc.
Diversity is about the differences in all people. Any two people are different - and diverse - from each other. There are many characteristics to consider when evaluating diversity - gender, race, ethnicity, age, educational background, and travel experience are a few. The general idea around diversity is that more is better (stay tuned for Part 2 of this series for why).
We can increase diversity by increasing the number of people who are from underrepresented groups. For example, women are about 50% of the U.S. population but they comprise only 30% of the U.S. manufacturing workforce. People who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are nearly 40% of the U.S. population, but they comprise only 20% of the U.S. manufacturing workforce. These gaps are wide but they create tremendous opportunities for the industry.
While diversity is about our differences, equity is about fairness. Organizations need fair practices in how they hire, evaluate, develop, promote, and terminate people. These practices need to be free of bias - including unconscious bias - so that everyone has equal opportunities regardless of whether a person is a member of a dominant or underrepresented group.
When I was a kid and I would point out an inequity, my parents would tell me that “life’s not fair.” While we cannot create a perfectly fair world, equitable practices will move the needle toward greater fairness for everyone.
Inclusion is about including everyone. All employees should feel welcome, connected, and included in an environment which encourages people to speak up and share their thoughts and ideas. When people don’t feel safe, they don’t share their ideas which could be the next big thing in the industry or a much-needed improvement to keep employees safe and customers happy. Organizations cannot build cultures of continuous improvement without also building cultures of inclusion.
Each element of DEI means something different, but when combined, they can bring powerful and positive change to organizations. The next part of this series focused on what DEI is will address the Business Benefits of DEI.
Cathy Nestrick is a retired executive in the plastics industry, the founder and co-host of Parity Podcast focused on accelerating gender equality, and a DEI thought leader and speaker. You can find her on LinkedIn or www.par-ity.com.