We are not far off the 2020s and yet it sometimes seems that organisations are a little stuck with the thinking of the 1990s when it comes to inclusion, to fostering inclusivity.
We know, or at least I hope we all know, what the differences are between equality, diversity and inclusion.
Battles have been fought over the years to deliver increasing equality with much more to be done. We are still a long way off equality – of course we are. And so, robust equality initiatives remain crucial but are not enough on their own.
Many of us have worked hard on the diversity agenda – I have been involved in this for over 20 years. I have strong personal, professional, organisational and societal reasons for being passionate about diversity and inclusion. But I have long seen the potential risks of limiting D&I activities to internal groups and networks. They can be great, they can help, but they are only a start.
There are fewer, in my experience, organisations which are working to drive inclusion across everything they do, to make it a principle of how they operate, a success factor for all their market and internal activities. Enough leaders understand the concept that there is only one strategy, the business strategy, and that inclusion might be an enabler of its success. But very few are thinking about how it applies across their entire business. I have, by the way, personally had successes and made some mistakes/had some failures in this area.
The risks are clear. For example: without a focus on building inclusivity, on the behaviours that will foster it, your sterling efforts on diversity in recruitment risk delivering, yes, a more diverse workforce but within which there are increased numbers of excluded employees. Your diversity statistics will look great but the lived experience of your colleagues may be less happy than it could otherwise be and their performance may not end up being at levels which reflect their true potential. ‘Exclusion as interference’ in other words.
The opportunities are also very clear. The opportunity to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, to unlock the full potential of your talented employees, to benefit from the innovative thinking of a different supplier base. To have a differentiated business which stands out in your market place.
And so how are you developing leaders who behave inclusively both because it is the right thing to do and because they recognise the business benefits generated by a more inclusive organisation (see McKinsey). How inclusive are your key functions such as finance and HR – teams which have an impact on every part of your business? How does inclusion feature as a principle across your entire learning and development agenda?
In summary: to which decade does your inclusion thinking belong? Is that decade one which is about to arrive or one which is firmly in the past?
I’d love to discuss this in greater detail with you. I’m easy to find https://chelsham.co/contact/
Best wishes Tony Jackson