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  • Ingeborg van Harten

Inclusion = Endgame

Focus on Inclusion instead of Diversity. We believe that by focusing on Inclusion you’ll achieve more positive results in the long-term when it comes to Diversity, Equity and Belonging. Why? Because Inclusion is something we can ‘do’. Being inclusive is behavior, and an inclusive work environment is something we can create. Inclusivity leads to more diversity, more equity, and a higher sense of belonging.

June is pride month. Lots of companies have changed their logos into colourful flags 🏳️‍🌈. It’s also the month when Diversity and Inclusion is an extra hot topic. Organizations are expressing their commitment to diverse work environments on stage and online… but then most of them go back to their daily business, without any changes to the way they work or operate the rest of the year. And they wonder why diversity isn’t improving 🤔.

It’s because it’s not easy to build a more diverse team. Structural internal changes are needed to be(come) a place where talent from all walks of life wants to work and can thrive.

Despite good intentions, companies (read - their founders, management, HR teams) often don’t really know what to do differently on a daily basis. They continue to struggle to meet diversity goals (if they even have those) because change in diversity is slow and hard to achieve. The composition of a management team doesn’t change overnight, it might take years. But with a new generation of educated, ‘‘woke’’ young colleagues entering our companies, it’s inevitable that expectations are higher than ever before.

It’s time to ‘Flip Think’ this challenge. (Yes, it’s a real word: Flip-Thinking) At 7people, we believe the focus should not be on creating a diverse workforce. Instead, the focus should be on creating a work environment where everyone can thrive = an inclusive one. And this will result, inevitably, in a more diverse environment.

The reason we focus on diversity is 1.) it’s the right thing to do (don’t discriminate!) and 2.) we know it leads to better results. But: Diversity is not the end game, it’s a FACT. Because we are diverse, more than we know and see.

The Diversity Iceberg

What we tend to focus on (and measure) is diversity at the top of this iceberg.

What we tend to forget or can’t see, is everything underneath the waterline. Diversity means all the ways we differ, including the underlying differences.

Even when we look alike, we are different. Beliefs, parental status, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, etc - are all examples of diversity. Being aware of and accepting these differences will help us become much better colleagues 🫶🏼.

Inclusion is the endgame, and it’s an ACT. We believe the real power for change is in inclusion as this is really easy! Being inclusive is a conscious act and something we can teach anyone. No need to wait for policies, training and quotas - you can become a super-includer just by doing.

Imagine, from today we focus on creating a company culture where we:

  • Assume good intent

  • Are patient with each other

  • Are honest and respectful in our communication

  • Are interested and caring

  • Accept people for who they are

The result would be truly irresistible places to work. Image the raving Glassdoor reviews, the high eNPS results, the low turnover and increased productivity. Who doesn’t want to work for a company like this?

A lack of diversity is often blamed on ‘not being able to find diverse hires’. But if your company has a fantastic inclusive culture, you will be able to attract those diverse hires. They’ll probably find you! When you have an enviable culture, more people will be interested in joining you and great people will stay. This will give you more options for improving diversity, both in hiring and internal growth - because you’ll have more choice from talent!

What can we do on a daily basis to improve INCLUSION?

Here are some of our tips on creating a more inclusive workplace that everyone can action:

  1. Be Explicit about Inclusion This means you make it clear to everyone which behaviours are expected and encouraged. Having a kickass Code of Conduct helps with this. It’s crazy to see how many companies do not have one. A good CoC not only explains the Values and Culture of the company but also helps employees understand how much you value inclusiveness. Code of Conduct Examples (Anyone who has a better word for Code of Conduct, hit us up. We don’t love words, but we do love the content).

  2. Provide Training and Educate Inclusivity starts with hiring people who act inclusive, and you can train your recruiters and hiring managers on interviewing for these traits. Anti-Bias training can help with understanding workplace biases, and help to prevent us from making wrong decisions. And you should educate your employees on the challenges faced by different groups. Providing resources on these topics is really important, as not everyone has been educated on these topics. (I.e. the LGBTQIA+ community, people of colour or on being neurodivergent.)

  3. Always Be Curious Talk to your colleagues with the intention to learn more about them. You don’t have to be best friends to be interested in someone’s life. When you know how someone is feeling, how their mornings look like, what their hobbies are, what excites them - or what worries them - you’ll have a much better understanding of what they do and why.

  • Tip 1 - There are fun card decks that you can use as a team, like The Daily Question. We have them in our kitchen in the office and often grab a card in the morning. It’s become a habit, and we love learning new things about each other. You could even create your own deck.

  • Tip 2 - You might dislike one of your colleagues a bit. Or they are new and you don’t have much reason to get to know them. This often results in - eventually - exclusion of this person in your interactions. You might even avoid them a bit, don’t do projects with them or prefer lunch with someone else. We recommend you proactively seek out this colleague and make a real effort to learn more about them. Be extra nice. You’ll be surprised what you learn about them.

  1. Assume Good Intent No one goes to work with the intention to insult and upset a few colleagues. Or with the intention to exclude another team member. They might however come across this way, probably unintentionally. People say the wrong thing, or don’t act the way you need them to - it happens. At those moments, it’s key to understand your triggers and regulate your emotions. Start the conversation and remain respectful. For some, this comes naturally, but talking about ‘Good Intent’ will make it explicit. It’s also a way to resolve possible conflicts. Assume good intent, so let’s see where the communication failed rather than looking at who was wrong.

  2. Speak up and be an ally Always address behaviour when it’s inappropriate, and also when this behaviour is not directed to you. Speak to the person(s) who behave poorly, and ask them for their reasons. They might not have realized what they said or did was hurtful. Then it turns into a learning opportunity. If they did know it was wrong, it’s important to make it clear what the repercussions will be of similar behaviour in the future. Be an ally. Advocating for others is very powerful positive behavior.

To wrap it up, we’re not saying drop your diversity efforts - but use the power of the crowd to create welcoming environments where everyone feels respected. Diverse talent will be drawn to you, making your DEI&B efforts much more effective.

Let’s create irresistible organizations… and become super includers! 💖


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