It is time to have some straight talk about Inclusion. Although it remains the best way to harness diversity for business success, the concept of inclusion is often painfully misconstrued. Because it is a competitive crime to watch companies squander this advantage, we at Borderless felt the need for an inclusion heart-to-heart. So, ready or not, here is our inclusion wake up call.
• Keep It Simple: Let’s be honest. Inclusion in the workplace as a concept is not too hard to grasp. All organizations have different kinds of people. To drive business performance, organizations need an environment where everyone is engaged and encouraged to contribute to the best of their ability. This is inclusion. Don’t get caught up in some intangible or ultra-complicated definition.
• Voice, Not Vote: Inclusion in the workplace is about voice, not vote. You are not creating a democracy or celebrating everyone’s uniqueness with a giant hug. You are trying to make sure you are harnessing the innovative and decision-making benefits of your team’s diverse perspectives and abilities to have a positive impact on your bottom line.
• You Can’t Just Tick-the-Box: Off-site training programs? Carved out events? Individualized computer modules? Get real. These things cannot possibly work. Inclusion is inherently about how we work together. As such, inclusion must be created, nurtured and embraced in the environment where people are actually working together on real business issues. This is just common sense. Inclusion is not a discrete, off-the-shelf training program you check off your list.
• It’s a Leadership Competency: If the ability to lead a diverse team in an inclusive way is not one of the competencies required for your leadership hires and promotions, don’t even talk to me about your inclusion initiative. It is nothing but a pipe dream or, at worst, a bunch of hypocrisy. Inclusion is about competitive advantage and business success, and it is a skill set you should be seeking and developing in your leaders. Oh, and in case it is not yet clear, this makes Inclusion a C-Suite issue, not a PR or HR exercise.
• Relevant to Your Business: Your employees may all be different, but they have one easily identifiable thing in common: the business. People will embrace an inclusive way of working when they can experience the power of its impact on business success, e.g., whether its developing and producing better brands and products; attracting and retaining the best talent; or creating a work environment that is energizing, engaging and professionally fun.
• Customized and Collaborative: There is no such thing as a one size fits all D&I approach. Individuals, teams and businesses present on a continuum. Approaches need to be customized and capable of leveraging existing tools and methodologies
• Organizational Vitality: Habitual behavior is our fall back point when we are stressed, short for time, under deadline, or generally drained of energy. This is the biggest danger to inclusive behaviors and processes, and these stressors are ever present in all of our work environments. Even well intentioned, fully D&I value onboard leaders will fall prey to this impact. As result, addressing organizational vitality (at the individual, team and business levels) is critical to support a sustainably inclusive environment.
Got your attention? Come talk to us about our customized and business integrated approaches to Inclusion.
By Rosalie Harrison, Partner
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