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Why Inclusivity matters the most
In the world of ED&I the acronym is in that order for a reason. The whole package of ED&I ensures fair treatment and opportunity for all. But we have been talking about Equality for over a century, Diversity for a few decades; and Inclusion sometimes seems to be the add-on, with less focus and energy expended on it but, in my opinion, it is the most important.
What’s the point of excelling in Equality and Diversity if the beneficiaries still don’t feel like they belong?
By and large Equality of Opportunity in the workplace is enshrined in UK law. Of course, there are loopholes and anomalies, and still hearts and minds to win over in some sectors of society. The reliance on Union strength up until the 1970s has largely been replaced by an ever growing raft of HR legislation, now a huge industry with serious legal clout. The Unions, as ever, can concentrate on pay and conditions and fighting with the government of the day.
The vast majority of UK citizens understand the value of Diversity, whether it be in the constant enrichment of society and culture, or in the workplace where businesses have worked out, pretty swiftly, that a balanced and diverse board of directors reaps financial, PR and strategic benefits.
There is an old saying which goes something like: ‘Diversity is being asked to the party but Inclusion is being asked to dance.’
In terms of true happiness and self worth, it’s that real sense of acceptance and belonging that matters the most. Of course, quotas and diversity targets have their place, but tokenism is still evident in some arenas; and that does little to promote integration or inclusion.
Take the case of Azeem Rafiq at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. As a youth cricketer he seemed destined for great things, but his career stalled, and his harrowing account of the racial discrimination he suffered at the club set shockwaves through the sport. Racial slurs and names, presumably dismissed at the time as ‘banter’ were commonplace according to Rafiq, and he clearly never felt part of the team. And in sport, much like other competitive areas of life, that is unforgivable; however it happened.
Other cricket teams have done better, and the England side is clearly a close knit bunch with no apparent exclusion based on colour or religious beliefs. On winning the T20 World Cup recently, the celebrations included the traditional champagne spray at which point the Lions’ two Muslim players, Moheen Ali and Adil Rashid, stepped aside for a brief moment. Some criticised the practice but Ali, a popular member of the team, wrote in the Guardian: “I find it weird that people still think it is strange that we do it.
“We respect our teammates and their desire to do this, they respect our beliefs. It’s really that simple. The amazing thing about our team is that guys took time out very early on to talk to us about our religion and our culture.
“They have made adjustments for us and we have for them.”
And that’s how you do it folks.
For anyone watching the big World Event of the moment, rarely away from our screens, there’s a fascinating study of Inclusion going on right now, on ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.’ Pantomime villain Matt Hancock was flown into the Australian Jungle and the former Health Secretary was immediately voted to complete the next few trials, which he did with success and a smile.
Hancock had discovered his place in the group as a provider, but he wasn’t welcomed by all. Some of the camp-mates found it hard to accept the Tory; Chris Moyles saying ‘out there he’s Matt Hancock but in here he’s Matt’; which was a good effort but slightly missing the Inclusivity point. But as the evictions began and the remaining campmates learned more about each other the controversial ex minister started to receive more friendship, even some enthusiastic ‘high fives’ replacing the half hearted hugs you’d normally reserve for your Aunty at Christmas.
I’ve written a fair bit over the past few years about why it’s important to try to fit into other people’s shoes, and to find the good in people. If you try hard enough it can be heart-warming.
Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, is preparing for government by crabbing his way towards the centre ground of UK politics and, in an interview with the Times last week he confessed that not only has he kissed a Tory, but he has a lot of Conservative voting friends. Sir Keir is denouncing tribal politics, which may not be a bad idea as he recognises that elections in the UK are pretty much always won on the economy, and every single time the outcome is decided by the floating (or new) voters and not the died-in-the-wool Reds and Blues.
Inclusion is about making everyone feel like they belong, because everyone who has earned the right to be in a particular place should be welcomed, regardless of sex, colour, identity, religious beliefs and, maybe even political leanings too.
Makes you wonder if Matt Hancock has ever kissed a socialist!
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