Shawnee Love • October 30, 2020
My short answer to the question “Why Inclusion” is
Because it’s the law.
Human Rights legislation says you will not discriminate against people in employment.
Occupational Health & Safety rules and regulations say you must respect people at work and not bully or harass them among other things.
But I hope you will strive for inclusion for reasons beyond compliance with the rules.
Regardless of who you are, everyone wants to be treated as if:
- You matter,
- You are valuable and worthy,
- Your contributions are noticed and appreciated, and
- You belong.
An inclusive workplace is an environment where these things are clearly expressed in how the organization operates and how people are treated and expected to treat each other.
Specifically, it means
- Communicating and interacting with people respectfully and in the ways and words they understand (consider writing policies and notifications in the languages of the people you have working for you if English of French doesn’t come easy),
- Protecting dignity through supports and tools to ensure differently abled can participate,
- Encouraging diverse perspectives and disagreement during meetings (consider assigning someone the role of devil’s advocate),
- Correcting situations where people are excluded or treated unfairly (you can use this as a teaching moment by publicly acknowledging the original error and the correction made),
- Asking people how they like to be treated and what you are missing or can do better (not only does this reduce blind spots but gives people the chance to be heard and seen)
- Providing training to help everyone do better at inclusion (so many people simply don’t know what they don’t know, and if you know better, you can do better),
- Being a safe place to be curious about each other as well as to receive feedback and resolve differences.
The last point I want to make is that sometimes being inclusive means making accommodations for people. However, in my opinion, you are truly inclusive when doing so doesn’t feel like its an “accommodation”. I say that because the word “accommodation” feels like it has a tone of something I have to do for you. I think you are really being inclusive when you do things just because it’s what you do to ensure everyone can participate and feel welcomed, heard, and valued. And when you get to the place when all your people feel included, there are great payoffs for the organization including retention, engagement, productivity, and of course, higher levels of trust.