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Beyond / Sep 16, 2020 / 4 min read

The power of inclusion in the workplace

If diversity is the ‘what’, inclusion is the ‘how’

We’ve previously talked about cultivating diverse teams, and within this the importance of inclusion in the workplace. Whilst diversity and inclusion are often viewed as a package deal, I find it misleading when the terms are used interchangeably. Diversity in business is much easier to define with measurable statistics while inclusion is fundamental to developing a strong cultureSimply put: if diversity is the ‘what’, inclusion is the ‘how’Therefore, emphasis needs to be placed on embedding practices to make sure you have a supportive culture for everyone to thrive and grow together 

As part of the Tecknuovo leadership team, we keep finding more and more reasons to focus on inclusion. Having a diverse workforce is obviously important – diverse teams make better business decisions 87% of the time and make them 60% faster – but simply having diversity doesn’t guarantee that everyone will feel like they’re part of the same team.  

Feeling included is a basic desire of human nature, and inclusion creates a positive atmosphere for a businessAs part of the culture it needs to be driven from the top down, but its also something everyone must be accountable for. We touched on it briefly before but by making positive changes to your culture you directly affect your employees happiness. By ensuring your company has space for everyone you create so much positivity across the business: you raise the value of each individual’s contributionyou give your teams the opportunity to be their authentic selves, and therefore you also increase employee retention. ACAS highlighted that social exclusion in a workplace has a direct impact on performance and productivity. As a result, your employees won’t be able to work to their full potential or feel embedded into your business, which ultimately leads to a higher churn rate and a need to be endlessly replacing teams. 

So what can you do to promote inclusion in the workplace?

We’ve included some practices that we find work really well for us in relation to inclusion: 

1. Start from before day one

In many ways the first day of work can feel like the first day of school. You’re coming into a new environment with its own group dynamics and social histories, it’s natural to feel anxiety as you don’t know what to expect. 

How can a workplace counteract this?  

For me, a great way around this is to give the new joiner an authentic impression of who you are as a company before their first day. We always share our ‘Meet our people’ document with all new joiners before they start. It helps take the nervousness out of the first day, helps the new starter learn everyone’s names, and provides easy ice breakers for the “speed dating” coffee chats we organise for the first week. 

2. Have a dedicated committee

While it is important to instil a culture of inclusion in the workplace being everyone’s responsibility, having a Diversity and Inclusion Committee is a great way to assign focus for the company’s ultimate goal. It’s an effective way to ensure the company stays on track when looking to make everyone feel like they belong – by consistently addressing processes and updating accordingly – but it should be noted that these committees are often made up of people for whom these topics carry the most weight. This is an unfair burden which companies should be wary of if they decide to go down this route.   

To ensure all ideas of inclusion are reflected, I personally believe committee members should be cross-company. They should be people who are aware of and/or trained on unconscious bias and are open to listening to others. It is completely appropriate (and, may I add, normal) for the members of this committee individually to not have all the answers, but if they have a desire to listen to others and to educate themselves the committee will succeed 

When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different,
we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organisation.

– Pat Wadors

3. Teams that work well together, stay together

One method that works particularly well for us is team building exercises. It’s a great way of understanding each other better, seeing how others work, and learning about different personality traits. I know some businesses that run company team building exercises where people in the company switch roles for a day. This helps people gain a real understanding of the different roles people do, and work with people they may not otherwise have day-to-day contact with 

Here at Tecknuovo, we have had great successes with this kind of game. One we love is where each member of staff provides three facts about themselves anonymously whilst the rest of the colleagues guess who the fact is about. It is a great activity to get to know each member of the team without assumptions or personality bias – and you learn some fantastic things about your colleagues!

4. Everyone works better in different ways

Understanding different personality types can help you to understand your preferred way or working, as well as your teams. With four main personality traits, and seven main character traits, its important to understand that everyone works better in different ways. DiSC is a well-known personality test that will help your organisation improve communication and teamwork. By knowing each other’s personality traits, this will allow you to build stronger relationships. Having a team that understands each other and can communicate and collaborate well is essential for business.  

When everyone is included, everyone wins.
– Jesse Jackson

Continuously learning

These are just some of the methods we have implemented and that work for us at Tecknuovo, we are continuously learning and adapting our approach by researching and listening to others.

Some other suggested practices include:  

  • Asking for feedback and listening to your employees, this will give you an insight into what is working and what needs improvement to better their experience. 
  • Celebrating a diverse array of holidays and events that are representative of your workforce, such as Eid, Chinese New Year, or Pride Month. 
  • Educating current employees on the importance and value of both diversity and inclusion.
  • Providing training on unconscious bias and the importance of recognising and managing biases. 
  • Continually reviewing and changing policies or procedures that could lead to someone feeling excluded.

There is no one way to ensure a business is inclusive, however one thing is clear, merely saying you are a diverse and inclusive business is not good enough. Companies are being held accountable more and more and we are all realising it needs to be a collaborative effort to ensure all members of the workforce feel comfortable within the workplace.  

A couple of extra helpful links:  

  • Insights Discovery – Helps people understand themselves and their colleagues so that they can have more respectful, productive and positive working relationships, even across virtual boundaries. 
  • Inclusify – Management expert Stefanie Johnson describes how employees have two basic desires: to fit into a group and to stand out as individuals. “Inclusify,” provides a roadmap for leaders to bring out the best in others by not just embracing differences, but including them in workplace policies, in other words “inclusifying.”  

 

Kat PainesHead of Marketing and Community

I always welcome feedback on what we’re doing, if you’d like to reach out to talk about how Tecknuovo are working towards inclusion in the workplace please contact me below. 

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