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All you need to know about diversity and inclusion

In this article, learn more about diversity and inclusion, including where the term originated and where current practices fall short.
an illustration depicting the words
© Creative Computing Institute

In this article, we will look at where the term ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ stemmed from, how it relates to legislation, and where conventional D&I initiatives may be falling short.

D&I initiatives

D&I initiatives try to ensure workplaces are inclusive, fair and equitable for all individuals, and to ensure nobody is discriminated against on the basis of any of the protected characteristics listed below.

Most people’s identities have multiple aspects and can include their age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality and ethnicity. They may also have a religion, belief or disability.

The concept of multiple discrimination recognises that ‘discrimination can occur on the basis of more than one perceived characteristic’ (1). Intersectional discrimination happens when ‘two or multiple grounds operate simultaneously and interact in an inseparable manner, producing distinct and specific forms of discrimination (1).

How D&I initiatives differ from country to country

The histories and evolution of D&I initiatives differ from country to country, relating to local legislation and social and cultural norms (2, 3).

In Great Britain, the Equality Act 2010 protects people based on nine ‘protected characteristics’: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. In other countries, the protected characteristics vary (4).

In terms of race discrimination, the Equality Act 2010 aims to ensure that everyone in Britain is protected from:

  • Direct discrimination: ‘when someone treats you worse than another person in a similar situation because of your race’
  • Indirect discrimination: ’when an organisation has a particular policy or way of working that puts people of your racial group at a disadvantage’
  • Harassment: ‘when someone makes you feel humiliated, offended or degraded
  • Victimisation: ‘when you are treated badly because you have made a complaint of race-related discrimination under the Equality Act’ (5).

Direct discrimination

For many people, direct discrimination is the benchmark for taking action and challenging discrimination when it occurs.

But the more subtle complex forms of discrimination such as indirect discrimination or microaggressions can be unseen or easily dismissed (6), which has a detrimental effect on individuals and their ability to perform well in their roles (7).

D&I organisations

D&I in organisations aims to be a buffer to situations of discrimination and often involves implementing unconscious bias training or events and setting measurable diversity targets.

However, when we explore statistics about Black tech professionals in senior positions, and their progression and retention, the data indicates there is very little progress being made to create a fairer and inclusive workplace for all (8, 9).

References:

  1. Council of Europe. Intersectionality and Multiple Discrimination

2. Lydia Dishman, 2018. A brief history of diversity training, Fast Company.

  1. Diversity Officer Magazine, 2007. The History Of Diversity Training & Its Pioneers
  2. DLA Piper. Employment
  3. Equality and Human Rights Commission. [Race Descrimination] (https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/race-discrimination)
  4. Elizabeth Hopper, 2019. What Is a Microaggression? Everyday Insults With Harmful Effects
  5. Nitasha Tiku, 2020. Black women say Pinterest created a den of discrimination — despite its image as the nicest company in tech, Washington Post.
  6. Delphine Strauss, 2021. Black representation at top of FTSE 100 companies falls to zero
  7. Bhaskar Chakravorti, 2020. To Increase Diversity, U.S. Tech Companies Need to Follow the Talent, Harvard Business Review.
© Creative Computing Institute
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