Inclusion. We can all say the word but how often do you stop and consider exactly what we mean when we talk about inclusion?
I’ve been spending time thinking about what it means for me, in my work and in my daily life.
I’ve developed this acrostic to help us all reflect on what we mean when we talk about inclusion. (Look out for my acrostic for DIVERSITY too!)
What can and should I be doing?
Every day each of us has the opportunity to create an inclusive environment through our thinking, behaviors and attitudes. To adapt John F Kennedy’s famous quote. Think not what “they” or “the company” will do to create an inclusive workplace, think what can I do to create one.
Being inclusive means that we have to eradicate behaviors that are exclusionary. Let there be no bystanders, if you see something that isn’t inclusive – call it out. If we all do it, it gets easier to do!
Inclusion requires a consistency, a harmony if you will, of the values and the ways the company operates. The policies, procedures, measures and so on all need to be consistent with the objective of inclusivity. It also means achieving an inclusive environment for all, not just some groups.
Leadership from the top is necessary for progressing inclusion and diversity. As elsewhere in business leadership happens at all levels, so don’t just leave it to the senior management teams, what’s your inclusive leadership opportunity today?
An inclusive workplace doesn’t allow for a bit of discrimination, or for policies that are a bit exclusive, it’s uncompromising. And yes, that means it can be hard.
Real inclusion is unlikely to happen by chance. It will require a systematic approach – objectives, plans, resources, measures – a comprehensive plan. Which makes it just like any other business or culture change program.
To be effective you need to be informed. Internally have data on one’s own business area and do something with it. Externally be informed of the expectations and requirements of customers, Governments, recruits, and the societies that you operate in as well as serve. Stay informed about what others in the market are doing that you can learn from.
Internally be clear and overt that the diversity of thinking and attributes that make us unique human beings is welcomed and valued. Silent acceptance is not good enough. Externally recognize the opportunity to influence suppliers, customers, even Governments. An organization can’t be passively inclusive, it’s an activity; think of it as a verb!
Achieving an inclusive culture could be considered a programme that lasts a number of years. Realistically such change takes time; it’s about embedded attitudes, behaviors and norms. In most corporates, with quarterly results required and 5-year strategic planning horizons, it effectively means that this should be thought of as a never ending activity!
Steven has extensive experience in strategic executive leadership having led large business units at Fujitsu. Steven has had full and operational delivery responsibility for $1bn annual revenue business, including sales / growth, of full-service range (consultancy and change programmes, to operational IT services) to multiple clients. Leading business through changes in strategic direction, crisis management, transformational turnarounds especially those delivering business critical services to clients such as Public Sector / National Government. Steven engages well with C-suite executives and senior stakeholders, including in previous roles with UK Government Cabinet Ministers.