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Inclusion is being asked to Dance…
25th September to 1st October is National Inclusion Week, founded by Inclusive Employers, the London based experts on workplace inclusion.
The theme this year is ‘Take Action to make Impact’ a rallying call for organisations and their leaders to make their workplaces truly inclusive to all. A marginalised colleague is an unhappy colleague and, at a time in which workplace morale is more important than ever, this is something no right thinking company or organisation wants.
Without inclusion, diversity is little more than the tick box activity of those who want to take the high moral ground and be seen to be ‘doing the right thing’. As the celebrated American author Verna Myers put it:
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Organisations are waking up, with research showing that employees perceive diversity and inclusion as two distinct practices; while diversity programmes focus on demographic blends, inclusion initiatives focus on the removal of obstacles to help workers effectively collaborate.
At the HDN Autumn Conference, Breaking Barriers, we have the chance to explore the best inclusivity practices across the UK, with our stellar line up of speakers and sequence of break-out meetings.
Inclusion, quite simply is making sure that everybody feels part of the team, everybody feels welcome and all voices are heard regardless of race, gender or age. We have moved on from the diversity targets, which grew quickly across public and private sectors around the turn of the century, and the tokenism in leadership positions. The increase in number of women in leadership is a case in point. Morgan Stanley, the American investment bank, found that companies with more than one female director experienced higher average employee productivity growth than those which were exclusively male.
Diversity does its job to prepare the landscape, inclusion makes things happen.
Workforce morale depends on leaders and managers ensuring that all people are treated respectfully and, vitally, that they know they aren’t just there because of their gender or the colour of their skin. Inclusion ensures that everyone feels valued and so it is easier to retain staff. And as every HR professional will tell you, it costs a lot more to recruit and train an employee than it does to retain one.
Not all retention is good and, every now and then, an employer needs to move people on, but a retention rate of below 90 per cent should start to ring alarm bells. If a good employee is happy in their work they will stay. Workers feel comfortable to go to work in a genuinely inclusive environment, where there are no cliques and marginalisation is absent.
National Inclusion Week is a great opportunity for employees and employers to refocus on their commitment to inclusion and to Take Action and Make Impact in their organisation. And the actions can be big or small; it can be a year-long strategy for leadership teams to work on removing barriers and, equally, it can be the captain of the office quiz team asking a new worker to join.
So this week; if you see any of your colleagues looking a little down, or lost, as soon as you have time go and have a chat or make them a brew. Then make it a habit.
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