Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important topics of discussion in various kinds of organizations, including student organizations. Before looking at how this could apply to the groups you belong to, let’s first define what these words mean.
Diversity vs. inclusion
A diverse place is one where all kinds of people of all genders, colors, sexual orientations, coexist. As such, it is home to a multiplicity of experiences, opinions, and thoughts. An inclusive place goes a step beyond that: it requires not only having a heterogeneous group of people but one where various minority groups are present and play an active role. Furthermore, in addition to simply fighting prejudice, an inclusive setting offers everyone a sense of belonging and provides fair opportunities. Vernā Myers, the diversity advocate at the Harvard Business Review, summarizes it way: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Diversity in terms of sexual orientation increases a company’s income by 25%
How you can improve your environment for all
One of the ways to make your AIChE Student Chapter more diverse and inclusive is to create a diversity group. This group can meet in person or online, can be broken into different groups, as needed, or bring together all minorities, and the group can include allies or not. Having a diversity group, regardless of how you decide to build and define it, will allow a great number of people to have a greater sense of belonging, because students will know that they are not the only ones who are “different” or non-standard, and they will also understand that an exchange of experiences, opportunities, and knowledge is encouraged. Thus, people who previously might have felt displaced or excluded can become stronger and more confident. In turn, your chapter will also benefit, as more people will feel represented and comfortable in participating, increasing the diversity of the group.
If you still wonder whether diversity has importance for your Student chapter, consider one McKinsey survey about the workplace that found:
- Companies with gender diversity have 14% greater productivity;
- Diversity in terms of sexual orientation increases a company’s income by 25%.
And while the same research did not specifically quantify the effect, it also concluded that racial diversity increased productivity.
The reasons for these findings seem fairly straightforward: the more diverse a team is, the more creative and different ideas and opinions it will have. Likewise, the more inclusive the place, the more people will feel happy in the workplace, thus increasing productivity.
So consider how your AIChE Student Chapter can do its part to create a more diverse and inclusive environment, so that more students feel represented, respected, and feel they belong. In turn, you will most likely have a more vibrant and engaged group of members and thus a better experience overall.