Count Everyone In
Sue Liburd Non-Executive Director, ABSTRACT UK
Sue Liburd, MBE DL, Non-Executive Director, ABSTRACT UK on why every day should be an inclusive day.
In this ever changing and fast paced world, equality, diversity, and inclusion has evolved from buzzwords to being an essential component of our daily lives.
No longer confined to HR manuals, and occasional mandatory training sessions, equality, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I) is a part of our everyday life.
However, ED&I often continues to be treated as an HR compliance issue and for some of us, our families, friends, and colleagues are still experiencing being marginalised, othered, and have to run a persistent gauntlet of microaggressions.
Inclusion goes hand-in-hand with diversity.
Inclusion is important because it’s not just about having diverse individuals in our midst, it’s about creating an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and heard. Inclusive spaces foster a sense of belonging, where everyone can thrive and contribute their best irrespective of their differences.
Promoting inclusion daily fosters a more accepting, diverse, and equitable workplace and society.
Being inclusive of people of different backgrounds, identities and experiences should be as normal as breathing.
Every day should be an inclusive day because:
It’s the right thing to do.
Promoting inclusion creates a fairer, more just society. Excluding or marginalising different groups of people is unethical and it hurts.
Persistent exclusion and discrimination hurts people because it takes a psychological toll, impacting mental and physical health and wellbeing, as well as denying opportunities.
Diverse teams make better decisions.
Research shows that embedded ED&I policies and practices create better outcomes.
Bringing people together with different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences often leads to more thoughtful solutions and innovation. Inclusive workplaces have been shown to be more productive and have higher employee satisfaction.
Inclusivity strengthens both organisations and society.
Excluding segments of the population alienates talented employees, customers, clients, and service users. A diverse customer base should be able to see themselves represented in the organisations within which they interact.
When we interact with people from different backgrounds, we broaden our horizons, challenge our stereotypes, gain empathy and understanding and build social cohesion and harmony.
However, knowing ED&I is the right thing to do doesn’t mean that it is easy, and having to do the right thing is rarely a strong enough motivation for people to change their thinking or behaviour.
To motivate people to be more inclusive within organisations it is important to connect inclusion efforts to the outcomes people care about.
For managers; connect inclusion to their team performance.
For sales and marketing professionals; highlight how inclusion links to increased consumer purchasing preferences and brand loyalty. Plus, how inclusive marketing resonates better.
For executives; outline the proven connection between diversity and business financial performance.
The key is taking the time to understand what matters to each person or role and customise the inclusion outcomes connection accordingly. When people see clear alignment to their own goals, inclusion becomes intrinsically motivating.
Significant ED&I improvements can be achieved in organisations and educational establishments when everyone makes small incremental changes in various aspects of their individual performance.
Just as athletes make small changes to their training routines to improve performance, individuals can incrementally increase their awareness of diversity and inclusion issues.
By setting aside a few minutes each day to learn about different perspectives, cultures or challenges faced by marginalised or underrepresented groups or by practicing active allyship, individuals can build a deeper understanding of inclusion.
If you are a manager or leader, it is essential that you allocate time to observe the diverse behaviours within your team and strive to understand the unique requirements and needs of your colleagues. Take proactive steps to champion and recognise inclusivity. Recognise that you are not only a role model but also a culture influencer. Do pay close attention to your verbal and non-verbal communication and behaviour as well as that of your team. What you say and do carries weight and sets the cultural tone.
Having every day be an inclusive day is not a lofty ideal.
It is a practical necessity for building a more equitable, innovative, and harmonious workplace and society. By making diversity and inclusion an active part of our daily lives it means we create a world where everyone’s unique contributions are recognised and celebrated.