The business case for inclusion at work is stronger than ever. More and more organisations are moving away from the idea that inclusion is a 'nice to have' and are recognising that it is in fact a business imperative. The research is clear - diverse and inclusive workplaces yield stronger results and higher profits (as well as higher levels of creativity and innovation).
We talk to a lot of managers about this stuff and they are very quickly sold on the idea that inclusion is important. Yet it still surprises me how few leaders actually take the next step and talk to their teams about it. For some reason inclusion seems to be a topic of conversation to either actively avoid or fudge. The difficulty is that inclusion is massively subjective and means something different to each and every one of us. So the only way leaders can know if their people are feeling included is to ask them! The simple step of asking demonstrates that you are thinking about inclusion - this can be a powerful message in itself. It's also highly likely that you will be provided with answers you didn't expect and ideas you hadn't thought of as to how you can promote inclusion. Often it's the small stuff that can help people embrace a true sense of belonging. So never assume you know what inclusion really looks like...make sure you keep asking!
Inclusion is the only scalable way to build diversity within an organization. Without thoughtful and deliberate discussion and action to cultivate an inclusive environment, all the energy and resources spent on recruiting a diverse workforce are for naught. The employees, so painstakingly recruited, will be gone within three months.