Many workplace leaders and employees genuinely feel as though they’re doing the right things – treating everybody equally and with respect. I come across plenty of good people who believe they are inclusive, that they treat everybody the same regardless of background. Unfortunately, the reality is that their awareness, education, and knowledge around the experiences of people from marginalized or underrepresented groups is lacking. This means that despite having the best of intents they can be causing harm, exclusion and discrimination.
We know that inclusion doesn’t just happen. Inclusion is a verb, an action word. Being an inclusive leader is a skill we must learn, it’s not inherent.
We all need to proactively seek to understand the barriers that exist for people and break them down. We need to design inclusive systems and processes and mitigate the bias and discrimination that exist in our workplaces.
So, how do we empower people with wonderful, well-intentioned mindsets, who genuinely strive to do the right thing, but just don’t know how?
We can bring well-intentioned people along with us and turn them into agents for change. We can recognise their good intent and redirect it to activities that create inclusion. Here are some tips on how we do that:
Storytelling is an essential element to broadening people’s perspectives. We all have a story to tell, creating opportunities in the workplace to share our stories is an important aspect of DEI work.
Looking at specific policies, programs and services within our organisations and the role bias plays in the outcomes is an essential step to providing people with the tools to design for inclusion.
Active Bystander Intervention training affords people with the confidence and the skills to call out negative behaviours or comments. This must be combined with an organisational culture that encourages education of each other and provides no space for negative behaviours to thrive.
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