What is Inclusion to me?
Diversity and Inclusion is a hot topic at the moment.
Prominent social and racial justice conversations have rightly brought this firmly on the agenda of most organisations and in turn raised the expectations of applicants, employees and alumni for inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
There is now a goldrush to deliver tools, initiatives, webinars, spokespeople to support such a drive. All important and 100% required. However before embracing what’s available, if you are engaging in this conversation, I encourage you to explore and decipher exactly what inclusion is to you.
In the interest of sharing, the following is what I believe inclusion is to me.
Inclusion for me has a number of components but there are 4 fundamentals that must be present in order for it to be achieved.
The first is willingness….
Willingness begins with internalising and reflecting. What works, what doesn’t? Honest appraisal of where the shortcomings are.
Willingness to discuss what type and kind of company it is that you or we want to build?
Willingness to take action
Willingness to listen and learn
Willingness to share not only ideas, opportunity but also equity.
Willingness to accept change
Willingness to fail — sometimes publicly and not allow that to deter you and / or your organisation to continue in its efforts for diversity and inclusion
If you’re reading this, it’s because you are willing.
So, you’re willing and you’re up on your feet — what now?
Well for me next comes Connection.
Connection is fundamental. Willingness to review old practises, habits and make change will only get you so far, if you do not have a connection.
Think about what you have already achieved with a connection.
Friendship, colleagues, maybe even marriage. Connection in our wider world achieves community, movements and real change.
A connection over the same goal and mission enables you as a business, to galvanise your organisation in fulfilling the same purpose.
It’s truly only when the organisation achieves connection of shared values and goals is where diversity becomes a real asset to your business.
Different people with different skills, experiences and views coming together as members of the collective focused on achieving the same mission and goal is powerful.
This second step is hard — by no means easy particularly when we find ourselves in this Covid world, where we’re less physically connected. Where things are determined by technology, fibre optic speeds, child pickups and drop off times, or dealing with being on your own in the continually changing world.
Or is it?
It doesn’t have to be this way…
There is, a clear opportunity for leaders and organisations to be more focused on inclusion through remembering the value of connection in our day to day work and engagement — simply by caring for the wellbeing of your people and teams.
Leaders have a responsibility to drive this, leading me to my third component for inclusion, which is to be deliberate and with purpose.
Fighting inequality, creating a more inclusive culture is not a passive sport.
You must show up and participate in full. Starting now.
In any of your received recommendations, processes, tools, technology, suppliers -everything must be utilised with conviction. Ask yourself, do these help you achieve and solidify the connection between your people?
Deliberate and purposeful leadership through connection will help you achieve inclusion as will establish participation from your people.
The last key component for me is encapsulated by a story told by this man.
This is Dave Chappelle. Dave Chappelle is a very successful comedian. He’s controversial, splits opinion and in my humble opinion he is very funny.
At one of his shows he was heckled by someone dismissing his narrative around racial justice.
Instead of focusing his jokes on or even ejecting this audience member, Chappelle took the time to educate everyone on the issue of race from his perspective and experience.
Long story — short he tells the quote from a friend.
Dave’s friend was South African and he described the end of Apartheid and how it finally came about,
Two words — Critical Mass. You may be thinking why is this important?
Well in the words of Dave Chappelle’s friend…
That’s what we have to hit — once enough of you care, there will be nothing they can do to stop change.
Willingness, Connection, Deliberate with Purpose and Critical Mass = Inclusion
Thanks for reading….
Be good, Be kind