By definition, inclusion isn’t exclusive but inclusive! This means that when considering whose role it is to shape and influence an inclusive culture, people must not stand on the side-lines waiting for leaders, or someone else, to take action or call things out. Everybody should recognise they have a role and contribution to make when it comes to diversity and inclusion – not least because it affects them!
Collaborating on inclusion
While it’s important to have a figurehead within your organisation that will champion diversity, place it at the top of the leadership agenda, challenge the norms and spearhead initiatives and policies, it’s also imperative that everybody else within the organisation gets involved.
They can do this in many ways; firstly, by raising awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion to an organisation. Often this requires a change in mindset and unpicking ingrained behaviours, as well as encouraging individuals to become open to new possibilities and ideas. It also requires education as well as a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and ask questions – to enhance knowledge to shape enhanced ways of working.
As an organisation, it’s important to set out core values, the mission and vision so that employees clearly understand and know how to apply them consistently across all operational activities – whether it be when hiring, managing performance, how employees interact and how the business engages with customers.
Values should form the bedrock of how the business operates and will set the tone for employee expectation. The core values that sit well with inclusion are:
- Diversity and,
These, in truth, are Disney’s corporate culture values for its team members, and when followed and demonstrated through the interactions employees have with each other, but also with their customers, it provides a platform and a framework for employees to understand the importance that inclusion brings and the role and contribution that they make.
Having a zero-tolerance towards behaviour which is not inclusive, can only occur if expectations have been clearly set out in a way that can be understood by everyone. Having clear values, therefore, provides an accountability framework – something which all employees can align with, follow and ultimately call out when not followed. If the company values don’t refer to anything which touches upon respect and diversity, then its time to consider revisiting, so they are fit for the future.
Organisations can also commit to connecting with the local communities they serve. This is a great opportunity to understand the challenges faced by the local community and how organisations can contribute. Connecting with schools and colleges is a great way to build your brand as well as harnessing talent for the future.
Creating an inclusive culture is not just the role of HR; it’s the role of everyone. Leaders need to understand and be aware of the impact that they have with their leadership style and decision making. Managers should be accessible so that employees feel able to engage with them.
Employees should be encouraged to have an unquenchable thirst when it comes to learning, not only in the sense of enhancing any technical knowledge and competence but in terms of being open and exploring the different ideas, viewpoints that are diverse and inclusive culture can bring.
Employees should feel safe to be able to bring themselves to work and have open and honest conversations about their experiences in the workplace. Employees should be encouraged through a holistic approach to understand and tune in into the biases of themselves and potentially their colleagues, helping them to understand the impact it has on others. When something is different, we can often feel unsure.
Even though many individuals agree it’s the right thing to do to create inclusive workplace cultures, in truth, they may not fully understand what it means. By following these simple steps, employees will start to raise their awareness not only about what’s important, but also stretch this further and consider what’s in it for me and realise the integral part they play in the ensuring the success of the inclusive culture.