Diversity and inclusion: Companies need both but there's a crucial difference

Though often used interchangeably, diversity and inclusion are two very different things. Most importantly, diversity without inclusion is mostly meaningless.

This series on diversity and inclusion is sponsored by Amway, which supports a prosperous economy through having a diverse workplace. Companies committed to diversity and inclusion are better equipped to innovate and drive performance. For more information, visit amwayglobal.com/our-story.


In an effort to allow us all to thrive, and to capitalize on our unique potential, there's been a growing awareness of the need to promote diversity and inclusion in our workplaces. Diversity and inclusion are often discussed together as a single thing, "D&I", which risks conflating their meanings. But they are very different concepts, each with its own challenges. And most importantly, diversity without inclusion is mostly meaningless.

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance." — Verna Meyers

Who are we?

As a country of immigrants and a nation that puts so much value on being an individual, the United States is rich human mosaic, and one of tremendous fluidity. According to the Pew Research Center, there will be no majority racial group in the country by 2065 with the white population dropping to about 46%. Hispanics will be at 24%, Asians at 14%, and the black population at 13%. Gallup finds that 10 million Americans (about 4.1%) currently identify as LGBT, though the U.S. Census Bureau will only begin asking about same-sex marriages with the 2020 census. Our beliefs are in flux as well. White Christians are currently less than half the population as more people self-report being atheist. When it comes to age, the labor pool is made up of people of all ages, with nearly half of those over 55 still working or looking for work.

Any view of America as any one thing—color, gender, or religion, for example—bears little relation to reality, and this is truer each day.

America is diversifying, make no mistake. And so, inevitably, will its workforce.

The basic definitions of diversity and inclusion

Diversity can be defined as 'the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization...'

That seems simple enough, and it is. In the workplace, it's about giving equal opportunity to all individuals, regardless of the social groups they belong to. “It's easy to measure diversity: It's a simple matter of headcount," say Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid in their article in Harvard Business Review.

Being part of a company is one thing but inclusiveness is about being given a genuine role in the business through an environment that welcomes and values your input.

While companies need to be concerned with both diversity and inclusion, the principal responsibilities for achieving each lie in two different departments, and must ultimately be addressed separately. Diversity occurs during hiring. Inclusion involves maintaining a professional and productive atmosphere where all employees feel like a valuable part of an organization.

The diversity challenge

Given that diversity is so tangibly trackable, it may be as far as some companies get. It's checkbox-ready: “Do we have enough of these, these, and these?" A company can demonstrably diversify its workforce, present the numbers to stockholders and customers, and this checkbox gets checked. Unfortunately, without inclusion, it simply results having a more varied group of disenfranchised employees. Katherine Reynolds Lewis puts it well:

It's not enough to have a Benetton-like rainbow of colors and genders throughout a company's annual report, executive ranks, or even around the boardroom table. The key is when those diverse perspectives and individuals actually have an impact on the decisions that are made at a company.

The inclusion challenge

It may be harder to measure, but it's widely understood that inclusion can be absolutely key to success, even beyond its relationship to diversity. In truth, current business strategy suggests that it's always important to get from each employee what he or she uniquely has to offer, regardless of a company's demographic makeup. A lack of inclusion holds back any business, undermining the potential inherent in any group of employees, diversified or not.

Inclusiveness requires effective, mutually rewarding leader-employee interaction, and it depends on a range of soft skills on the part of management. These are hard to teach and learn, but they're essential skills for any successful leader.

One key to successfully promoting inclusion for a diverse workforce is to ensure that each person is viewed as an individual with his or her own talents and needs, and not via some demographic shorthand. Further, it's a great idea to construct diverse project teams to establish relationships beyond existing social boundaries. And there's no need to worry that an invitation to participate could offend someone born outside the U.S., either. Research shows that inclusive management is highly regarded in today's business world across the globe. Inclusion works everywhere.

The opportunity of inclusion

An inclusive workplace results in employees experiencing greater job satisfaction due to a more deeply felt commitment. This, in turn, leads to less employee turnover, and that saves money and time. Inclusion also increases an employee's investment in the company and allows the development of a deeper understanding of its business. The employee's input becomes ever more useful.

Diversity hand-in-hand with inclusion holds even more potential, with a profoundly expanded pool of ideas, suggestions, and opinions available thanks to the rich variety of experiences and perspectives of a diversified workforce. Viewed from this angle, diversity sets up an exciting opportunity to fully leverage what each and every one of us has to offer.

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  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
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In truth, so much of what happens to us in life is random – we are pawns at the mercy of Lady Luck. To take ownership of our experiences and exert a feeling of control over our future, we tell stories about ourselves that weave meaning and continuity into our personal identity.

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Yale scientists restore brain function to 32 clinically dead pigs

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

Still from John Stephenson's 1999 rendition of Animal Farm.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.

The image of an undead brain coming back to live again is the stuff of science fiction. Not just any science fiction, specifically B-grade sci fi. What instantly springs to mind is the black-and-white horrors of films like Fiend Without a Face. Bad acting. Plastic monstrosities. Visible strings. And a spinal cord that, for some reason, is also a tentacle?

But like any good science fiction, it's only a matter of time before some manner of it seeps into our reality. This week's Nature published the findings of researchers who managed to restore function to pigs' brains that were clinically dead. At least, what we once thought of as dead.

What's dead may never die, it seems

The researchers did not hail from House Greyjoy — "What is dead may never die" — but came largely from the Yale School of Medicine. They connected 32 pig brains to a system called BrainEx. BrainEx is an artificial perfusion system — that is, a system that takes over the functions normally regulated by the organ. The pigs had been killed four hours earlier at a U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse; their brains completely removed from the skulls.

BrainEx pumped an experiment solution into the brain that essentially mimic blood flow. It brought oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, giving brain cells the resources to begin many normal functions. The cells began consuming and metabolizing sugars. The brains' immune systems kicked in. Neuron samples could carry an electrical signal. Some brain cells even responded to drugs.

The researchers have managed to keep some brains alive for up to 36 hours, and currently do not know if BrainEx can have sustained the brains longer. "It is conceivable we are just preventing the inevitable, and the brain won't be able to recover," said Nenad Sestan, Yale neuroscientist and the lead researcher.

As a control, other brains received either a fake solution or no solution at all. None revived brain activity and deteriorated as normal.

The researchers hope the technology can enhance our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main avenues of such studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could point the way to developing new of treatments for the likes of brain injuries, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and neurodegenerative conditions.

"This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately offers a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important, given the vast amount of human suffering from diseases of the mind [and] brain," Nita Farahany, the bioethicists at the Duke University School of Law who wrote the study's commentary, told National Geographic.

An ethical gray matter

Before anyone gets an Island of Dr. Moreau vibe, it's worth noting that the brains did not approach neural activity anywhere near consciousness.

The BrainEx solution contained chemicals that prevented neurons from firing. To be extra cautious, the researchers also monitored the brains for any such activity and were prepared to administer an anesthetic should they have seen signs of consciousness.

Even so, the research signals a massive debate to come regarding medical ethics and our definition of death.

Most countries define death, clinically speaking, as the irreversible loss of brain or circulatory function. This definition was already at odds with some folk- and value-centric understandings, but where do we go if it becomes possible to reverse clinical death with artificial perfusion?

"This is wild," Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times. "If ever there was an issue that merited big public deliberation on the ethics of science and medicine, this is one."

One possible consequence involves organ donations. Some European countries require emergency responders to use a process that preserves organs when they cannot resuscitate a person. They continue to pump blood throughout the body, but use a "thoracic aortic occlusion balloon" to prevent that blood from reaching the brain.

The system is already controversial because it raises concerns about what caused the patient's death. But what happens when brain death becomes readily reversible? Stuart Younger, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University, told Nature that if BrainEx were to become widely available, it could shrink the pool of eligible donors.

"There's a potential conflict here between the interests of potential donors — who might not even be donors — and people who are waiting for organs," he said.

It will be a while before such experiments go anywhere near human subjects. A more immediate ethical question relates to how such experiments harm animal subjects.

Ethical review boards evaluate research protocols and can reject any that causes undue pain, suffering, or distress. Since dead animals feel no pain, suffer no trauma, they are typically approved as subjects. But how do such boards make a judgement regarding the suffering of a "cellularly active" brain? The distress of a partially alive brain?

The dilemma is unprecedented.

Setting new boundaries

Another science fiction story that comes to mind when discussing this story is, of course, Frankenstein. As Farahany told National Geographic: "It is definitely has [sic] a good science-fiction element to it, and it is restoring cellular function where we previously thought impossible. But to have Frankenstein, you need some degree of consciousness, some 'there' there. [The researchers] did not recover any form of consciousness in this study, and it is still unclear if we ever could. But we are one step closer to that possibility."

She's right. The researchers undertook their research for the betterment of humanity, and we may one day reap some unimaginable medical benefits from it. The ethical questions, however, remain as unsettling as the stories they remind us of.

Ashes of cat named Pikachu to be launched into space

A space memorial company plans to launch the ashes of "Pikachu," a well-loved Tabby, into space.

GoFundMe/Steve Munt
Culture & Religion
  • Steve Munt, Pikachu's owner, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the mission.
  • If all goes according to plan, Pikachu will be the second cat to enter space, the first being a French feline named Felicette.
  • It might seem frivolous, but the cat-lovers commenting on Munt's GoFundMe page would likely disagree.
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