The Challenges of Inclusion

What is the point of working hard to hire a diverse workforce, if many of the people you bring in to create a wide range of voices find that their voice is not actually very welcome?

Setting targets for diverse hiring is one thing, managing inclusion is another.

So, let’s be honest here.  Quite often organisations are not all that welcoming even to new recruits who look and sound exactly like most of the existing workforce.  Cliques and cabals develop and it can be hard for new people to find their place.

Imagine being faced with that situation AND you don’t look like others around you, or you come from a very different social background, or you struggle with deafness or a multitude of other challenges?

The absolute basics of inclusion are ensuring in the early days that new recruits are given all the support they need, from understanding the culture around lunch breaks to having multiple opportunities to meet colleagues and learn about the work the team is doing.

And then, there needs to be a space for the team to develop a positive way of working together.  Clearly that will vary a great deal, but essentials must surely include:

  • ensuring every voice is heard
  • building strong working relationships
  • finding constructive ways to both challenge and learn from each other
  • helping team members understand how their behaviour is perceived by others.

Together these essentials form the foundation of psychological safety in a team.

Targets for diversity are easy to set and measure.  Targets for inclusion are much harder to get a grip on – and as we all know – what gets measured gets managed.

Think about how you want inclusion to develop in your organisation then set some way of measuring it effectively.  Give guidance to managers at every level on how to improve and track inclusion in their team, and thus every employee feels psychologically safe.

Why does this matter?

As much research has shown in the last decade or so – pioneered by Google’s Oxygen Project – Psychological Safety is a necessary condition for high performance of individuals and teams.


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