Inclusion & Diversity; two terms we are so used to hearing around the HR table these days. How do we make our teams more inclusive, richer in diversity and address the gaps that silently exist unknowingly?
The older I get, the more I become aware of my own gaps in inclusion. I recognize that the our collective, Culture Co. is a team of all white women, that we are all mothers, that we are all in our thirties. We are the same.
I look at my social circle, aware that again, it is predominantly white couples, middle-class, double income working parents. We are the same.
Yet I keep thinking more and more about how to build a more inclusive and diverse life. I love everyone, unless you are ignorant and against inclusion, then most likely I do not want you in my circle (which perhaps then makes me un-inclusive based on viewpoints and values). I believe that we all belong to each other but yet I struggle to reach out my hand and say ‘hello, tell me your story’ to random strangers.
The work I do in this world sometimes feels like the direct opposite of what it means to foster inclusion and diversity. I build cultures. We explore values and their visions and invite people into it by asking the question ‘does this excite you’. We go to great lengths to ensure fit within teams and asking questions that will ensure we find those who get excited by the moral compass. Sameness. But we do it with the overlay of asking ‘are there enough different minds at the table?’ ‘do we have the proper cross section of people to ensure we can problem solve by moving forward and not standing still?’. We ask hard questions but we yet are still looking for a degree of sameness.
And sometimes we don’t have a choice, sometimes we can only hire out of the pool that presents itself and we need to hire the best candidate for the job and for our team.
I don’t have all the answers to these questions and I have more questions than I do ideas but I do know that anything we want to change, always starts with awareness.
So when I approach our clients about building a diverse work culture, we start with awareness. By taking stock in the current landscape of the demographics present in the team. We look at age, gender, race, geographical location and if the team is willing, sexual preference or political views. Not from a place of judgement but from a place of openness, where we can begin to see how each unique team culture is built.
Inclusion and diversity go beyond just ensuring that you have a cross-section of demographics (although that is important). It is ensuring that you allow room for different idea’s, different opinions than your own. Looking at strengths like a puzzle instead of an inventory list. Looking at policies and procedures that perhaps softly say 'we don't want you'.
So maybe it’s about asking the question ‘who am I not including?’. ‘What idea and voice am I not hearing?’
As a business leader, you may never have a completely inclusive and diverse work culture but if you continually ask the questions, make awareness a priority and allow people to show up fully with their idea’s and opinions, you may just build a culture that is so inclusive of your current people, you will begin to draw in diversity.
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