How To Build Inclusion Around You
Building a foundation where differences are not only acknowledged, but embraced, perception can be that it is simply the responsibility of the team to create a diverse and inclusive workplace. Some of the insights shared are summarised below.
1. Communicating, Measurement and reporting are on the increase
Small businesses face increasing stakeholder expectations and increasing legislative requirements to report on diversity, including gender splits in the Companies Act and recent gender pay gap legislation. Reporting is necessary, but it’s far from sufficient. To build inclusion, small businesses need to think about their audiences and their drivers and then consider how to communicate with them. Creative communications is one way businesses can cut through the noise to really make a difference and make it viral.
2. Inclusion needs a multi-channel approach and that includes emotional intelligence
A modern workplace culture has built a very complex response to inclusion, changing policies, building colleague networks, creating an environment where people feel able to challenge, developing training and mentoring programmes, customer satisfaction, stakeholder analysis and so on. But rational, logical responses are only part of the picture. Changing behaviour needs to engage people on both a rational and emotional level and needs a lot of engagement marketing to implement.
3. If we fail to treat each other fairly, from a neuroscience perspective, we’re effectively punching each other in the face
This adverse act, in turn, threat response hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline flood our bloodstreams. This evolutionary response primes us for self-protection but reduces our ability to collaborate, innovate and focus. But fortunately, the reverse is also true; when we feel valued, serotonin, dopamine and endorphins are released, boosting decision-making, creativity and sense of wellbeing. Feeling included doesn’t just feel good; it’s neurologically performance enhancing and contributory.
4. Inclusive leadership starts with the face in the mirror
Consider creating own “in-groups”, which includes closest friends, loved ones and confidantes. Most of us have quite homogeneous in-groups; being aware of this is the first step to including out-groups. This awareness is especially important in the boardroom being small, targeted and segmented. If we look at self-reinforcing attitudes that ultimately led to failure. In other words, by diversifying our in-groups we increase the range of perspectives, the quality of challenge and ultimately small business resilience.
5. Micro-behaviours are as important as big gestures
Exclusionary behaviour is rarely overt these days, instead it manifests itself in very small but repeated actions, micro-behaviours, in turn, marginalise people. This is best addressed by people looking at their own behaviour. If diversity initiatives are couched in terms that threaten our self-perception, inevitably that’s quite challenging for people. If instead we focus on role and expectation that’s likely to be a less patronising and ultimately more effective approach.
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