Creating and Maintaining an Inclusive Workforce

09-Apr / blog / 0 COMMENTS

As we look at how business is developing in 2009, one of the social phenomena is the attention being given to “inclusion.” For some of us it is hard to understand how or why this term is just now becoming a primary focus. Inclusion has been around long before diversity became a business consideration, a global industry of its own.

Each business or sector tends to have different definitions of inclusion. They are tailor made to fit the specific organizational need in question. Here are a few examples of how some leading people in our industry are defining the term inclusion:
Judith Katz and Fred Miller, of the Kaleel Jamison group define inclusion as a sense of belonging, feeling respected, valued and seen for who they are as individuals. There is a level of supportive energy and commitment from leaders, colleagues and others so we individually and collectively can do our best work.

The Institute for Inclusion says inclusion is engaging in the uniqueness of the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, capabilities, and ways of living of individuals and groups when joined in a common endeavor. Inclusion is engaging in diversity to create a culture of belonging in which differences are valued and honored.

Dr. Roosevelt Thomas says inclusion is creating an environment that allows everyone to contribute to his or her potential. (Dr Thomas also thinks about diversity in the same way). Dr. Bernardo Ferdman, professor at Marshall Goldsmith School of Management defines inclusion on two basic levels: individual and collective.

Both are important for creating conditions in which everyone has the opportunity to be authentic, appreciated, to feel safe, valued, engaged and excited to be in the workplace.

Our definition of inclusion, taken from my book I Can See Clearly is to belong to, to be a part of, to not be discounted.
I find it interesting that beyond these definitions so many other people from different sectors are doing research and coming up with their own definitions of inclusion. The common theme that seems to surface from these different definitions includes things like safety, value, respect, individuals reaching their potential, etc.

In order for us to really put our arms around this topic it is necessary to acknowledge that there is a pecking order of importance that comes up based on which sector you come from. Researchers and academicians generally are afforded more credibility then those individuals or groups who have street experience. This is due in part to expectations that are placed on individuals based on the groups they come from. As Ferdman said, it is both individual and collective.

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