My Early Experience with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The writer and comedian Alexandria Love writes with insight about diversity, equity and inclusion. She points out that while many people believe that “diversity” and “inclusion” are the same, there is a subtle, but important difference.

Diversity, she says, “is the act of creating a community comprised of people with varying backgrounds and creeds.” Inclusion, on the other hand, is “finding a way of making sure that all of these people feel fully valued.”

There is an equally subtle difference between “equality” and “equity.” Equality is straightforward: treating everyone the same (even if that’s poorly). Equity, however, “is about achieving the same benefits, even if it means that everyone receives different, though still just and fair, treatment.” And so everyone in the organization, regardless of their position in the hierarchy, is entitled to the same group benefits, while being treated with full respect and trust.

Long before the phrase was coined, diversity, equity and inclusion were key elements of the culture we created at Applied Materials. When I became Applied’s CEO in the late 1970s, we started to build an exceptionally diverse workforce with top engineers and managers, both men and women, representing many races, cultures and nationalities, including white, Black, Hispanic, Indian, and Asian, and from all around the globe.

All employees were supported by a culture that enshrined mutual trust and respect as a core organizational value. I had no tolerance for anyone who lorded their position or power over others.

Diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority for all organizations today. I’m proud that at Applied Materials we did our small part to show the way, well before DEI reached the prominence it deserves.

  • Do you make distinctions between “diversity” and “inclusion” and between “equality” and “equity”?
  • What is your definition of diversity, equity and inclusion?
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