As inclusion becomes more and more of a priority, so does the need for organisations to develop a strategy or plan on inclusion. This blog shares 5 tips for getting started.
- A good starting point for developing an inclusion strategy is understanding how included your people feel right now. Measuring inclusion is a challenge (more on that later) but one way to gather some of the insights you need to inform your approach is simply to ask people how included they feel right now, what (or who) makes them feel included, and what might make them feel more included in the future. Simple it may be – but it’s surprising how little it happens. In our experience most people have never been asked those questions before.
- You need to model inclusion in how you go about developing your inclusion strategy. That means involving employees who may not typically have a voice on strategy development, and gathering insights from a diverse range of people about what makes them feel included – from junior staff as well as senior, from introverts as well as extroverts, from younger as well as older employees, from white men as well as women of colour.
- You’ll need a working definition of inclusion as you’re developing your strategy. We’re big fans of Catalyst’s work that defines inclusion as a function of ‘uniqueness’ (‘the perception that you are distinct from others and that your distinctiveness is valued by others in the group’) and ‘belongingness’ (‘the perception that you are part of a group, such as a work team, and that you are an essential part of the group’). People intuitively understand what this means, so it’s a great opener for a discussion about the meaning of inclusion for your organisation.
- You need to explore how different groups understand and experience inclusion. In our conversations about the meaning of inclusion we found that there’s a lot of similarity in what makes people feel included, and what inclusion means, but a lot of differences too. The differences show up across different demographic groups and also different sectors. One similarity? Wherever they work, and whoever they are, employees feel included when they get asked for their opinion, and their opinion gets listened to. One difference? Working towards a shared vision of the future is motivating, but it’s not a driver of inclusion for everyone.
- Finally, you’ll need to find the right language in which to define inclusion for your organisation. We were particularly proud of the language we developed with one client to describe what inclusion meant to them. We tried it out with another client in another sector and guess what? It simply didn’t work. It didn’t fit. The words didn’t capture what made people in that organisation feel included. Just like diversity, there is no one-size-fits-all on inclusion either. But getting employees involved from the start in defining and framing your approach will get you closer to developing a strategy that works.