Tag Archives: inclusion

5 tips for getting started on your inclusion strategy

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Checklist for successful interventions

If you’re in the process of planning, designing or delivering any kind of intervention on diversity and inclusion in your organisation, then you may find the following useful.  It’s a checklist of ten success factors: the things you need to pay attention to on design and delivery, in order to maximise the likelihood of any intervention making a positive difference.

Fellow consultant Gilly Shapiro and I have developed this list based on our collective experience of working with clients across the sectors on organisational development and change, diversity and inclusion.  We’ve also drawn on insights from others, including two recent resources: Why Diversity Programs Fail And what works better, HBR, July-August 2016; What Works: Gender Equality by Design, Iris Bohnet, 2016.

It’s a simple checklist.  You’ll find it quick to read and – we hope – intuitive.  But in our experience of working with and observing organisational approaches on diversity and inclusion, it’s a list that’s definitely easier read than done.

We’d love to know what you think of it.  It is useful to you?  And what have we missed?  You can download a printable pdf of the list here: Checklist for successful interventions


  • Successful interventions have influential sponsorship (most likely senior leaders who are active, visible, and want to see things change)
  • There is an appetite for the intervention (there’s a business case or some other motivation/ diagnostic/ insight which provides evidence of the need for change)
  • The intervention is resourced for success and sustainability (time, budget, people)
  • It’s understood as part of a broader organisational system (interconnections and impact on other organisational practices are explored, the intervention targets system and process change not just individual behaviour)
  • Target populations are involved in designing the intervention (the ‘nothing about me without me’ principle)
  • Managers are engaged in solving the problem (in designing the intervention and in its implementation)
  • The intervention creates alliances between different groups (reducing the power of homogenous networks, encouraging contact between different groups)
  • The intervention is sector and organisation-specific, inspired by but not copied from good practice in other organisations
  • There is accountability and responsibility (both for taking action, and for impact)
  • There is transparency about success and failure, and learning from both