With organisations shifting focus from increasing diversity to building inclusion, we’ve been helping clients think through what a strategy on inclusion might look like. This blog shares 5 tips on the process of developing an inclusion strategy.
- To develop a strategy that’s right for your organisation for the future, you need a good understanding of your starting point. When you’re developing an inclusion strategy that means understanding how included your people feel right now. Measuring inclusion is a challenge but one obvious way to gather the insights you need to inform your strategy is simply to ask people: ‘What makes you feel included?’ and ‘What would make you feel more included where you work?’. Obvious 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 the development of strategies of any kind, 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. It’s then about exploring how meaning can be translated into action, and scaled up to create a more inclusive organisational culture.
- 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.
- Talking with people about what makes them feel included will help you find the right language in which to frame your strategy, as well as the right content. We were particularly proud of the language we developed with one client to describe their inclusion strategy, and thought we had it cracked. We tried it out with another client in another sector and guess what? It simply didn’t work. It didn’t fit. It didn’t capture what made people in that organisation feel included. Just like diversity, it turns out 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.