The world has woken up to the benefits of a culturally diverse workforce. But uncertainty about what is and isn’t appropriate still abounds. Inclusivity is less about making grand gestures and more about building a culture where individuals feel understood, every day. Read this month’s tips.
- Own up to bias. No matter how neutral we believe we are, we all go through life asking one unconscious but important question: ‘are you like me?’. Acknowledging that we have an instinctive preference for those who are similar and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of is the first step in moving beyond ‘them’ and ‘us’.
- Pop your filter bubble. Our preference for similarity extends beyond concrete characteristics such as age, race, religion, and gender to less tangible aspects like accent, outlook and education. Focusing on those who are ‘like us’ means we miss out on valuable information and opportunities. Make a conscious effort to seek out people outside of your ‘filter bubble’: challenge yourself, be curious and reap the rewards.
- Spot the tribes. Everyone wants to feel like they belong – it’s why sports fans wear their team’s colors and friends tend to dress the same. But when we gravitate towards those who are similar to us, we unintentionally exclude those who are different – and that hurts. Spot the ‘in-groups’ in your workplace, and look for those who are on the periphery.
- Include intentionally. Our daily lives are littered with tiny acts of inclusion or exclusion: from missing somebody off an email or an extra-curricular invite to ‘light-hearted’ jokes or avoiding eye contact. These small actions have a huge cumulative effect. Make a conscious effort to include by asking opinions, extending invitations or initiating conversations.
- Take responsibility. All too often in large organizations ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ is seen as a box to tick, or the concern of HR. It’s not. Every individual is responsible for helping those around them feel psychologically safe – at work and at home. Lead by example and demonstrate that inclusivity is built-in hundreds of actions, every day.