Earlier this month, I went to the brilliant #onblackheath Festival where the phenomenal Paloma Faith was headlining. She’s a fantastic performer, peppering her songs with stories from her past. One story in particular resonated…she was walking down a street in Hackney, where she grew up, and came across a black man pinned down by a group of police. It was only when he looked up into her eyes that she realised he used to be her childhood sweetheart.
The song she performed was inspired by this young man, who she believed ended up taking the wrong turns in life because he was continually suspected of crimes he didn’t commit. What would have been different, I wonder, if he’d had the opportunity to follow the same path as Paloma, instead of ending up in a police cell?
This got me to thinking about the world of inclusion and diversity, particularly since National Inclusion Week takes place this week, aiming to offer everyday solutions in making where you work more inclusive, engage organisations in the commercial and social opportunities which arise from increased inclusion and spark ideas to make inclusion the norm.
Inclusivity is defined as the quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally. Sounds good to me. But what does the word mean to you? Would you call yourself ‘inclusive’ at work and in life in general? And how could further embracing inclusion impact on our success – as a business owner, employee, employer and individual?
Things are moving fast in the world of diversity and inclusion – and for the better.
Gone are the days where a diverse and inclusive workforce is merely ticking a legal requirement box. Any company worth their salt understands that offering an inclusive and diverse team brings with it so many advantages. These include innovation, by encouraging diverse thought and opening people up to others’ thinking and experiences, as well as overall team satisfaction and quality of staff.
A recent study by Deloitte/BJKLI revealed that 83% of millennials are more likely to actively engage with an organisation that they feel fosters and inclusive culture, compared with only 60% who perceive their culture as non-inclusive; makes for interesting and enlightening reading.
Inclusivity equals success, growth and leadership in your field so it’s something that no one in business can ignore – it is something to embrace, understand and allow to flourish.
But it’s not as easy as, say, hiring a diverse team and letting them get on with it. Teams need to be nurtured and developed and this has to come from the top. Throughout any organisation, there has to be a clear mindset of inclusivity that impacts every aspect of the working day so that everyone from the ground up benefits from the spirit of inclusivity.
A huge issue when hiring staff is bias. It exists everywhere as it’s human nature to build a picture and an assumption of someone in the first few seconds of meeting – we all do it. However, there is technology to help with this in an employer / potential employee scenario.
This allows candidates to be judged purely on merit so that considerations of ethnicity, location, social background etc go out the window. It is an investment from companies to shift behaviour in this way, and those that have are reaping the rewards, hiring purely on merit alone and thus resulting in the most diverse and inclusive teams delivering the best results.
Through our Gravitas and Women in Leadership Programmes I have had the privilege of partnering with a range of organisations and individuals who specialise in enabling organisations to move towards an inclusive environment. Our aim is to ensure everyone has an equal chance of success – whatever that looks like for them – and in that way bringing about a win/win for all.
By really looking at the individuals and nurturing and supporting them, the bigger picture of the whole organisation is suddenly a very strong, inclusive one indeed.
Could you do with some help looking at diversity and inclusivity in your organisation? Drop me a line and we can talk further.