A conversation about inclusion

First posted on LinkedIn 6 April 2020.

A couple of weeks ago Dr. Gillian Shapiro and I partnered with the fabulous team at Meeting Magic (www.meetingmagic.co.uk) to host a conversation for LinkedIn colleagues on the implications of the current situation for inclusion. It was an experiment for all of us: we wanted to offer a space for people to discuss the implications of the current situation for inclusion, and also to experience an inclusive conversation in a virtual space. Collaborating with Meeting Magic was a big factor in helping make the experience of the conversation an inclusive one. They helped us structure the session, held the technological space and captured outputs so Gilly and I could focus on the people in the virtual room.

In the discussion Gilly and I heard three things:

–        There’s no single story about the implications of the current situation for inclusion. Some colleagues see it as a moment of opportunity, a chance to rethink norms on remote working, to upskill leaders on inclusion in virtual leadership, to raise awareness of the ways in which inclusion and exclusion happen in the virtual world. Other colleagues see it as a moment of threat, as work on diversity and inclusion gets deprioritised, and fear and uncertainty make people behave in ways that are less rather than more inclusive; as one participant said, ‘biases run wild in stressful situations’.

–        What makes people feel included in the virtual world is very similar to what makes people feel included in real life (that sounds wrong as I write it – this is real life now, right?). Being treated with respect, feeling connected to a bigger purpose and to other people, and having opportunities to take responsibility, grow and develop all influence how included people feel, whether they’re working remotely or face-to-face.

–        Right now, what LinkedIn colleagues seem to want above all is the chance to connect, to hear what other people with the same passion and commitment to diversity and inclusion are making of it all, to do some sense-making for themselves, to know they are not alone in their uncertainty and confusion about what to do right now – and yes, to find some answers too, if they can.

If you’d like to be part of a conversation about the implications of the current situation for diversity and inclusion, do get in touch. We’re inspired by this first conversation to convene another discussion, and we’d love you to join us.

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