Updated: Sep 30, 2022
The term "inclusion" has become lost in translation. This ideal of workplace culture has become more aspirational than operational; a concept so big, abstract, and vague that it can be near impossible to turn the idea of inclusion into a reality.
So let's simplify things. Inclusion means ACTION. It's what we do—from a senior executive making a company-wide policy change to support vulnerable groups to how people acknowledge/give credit to others for their unique contributions during meetings.
Here at Mattingly, we define inclusion as the BEHAVIORS that result in others feeling valued, respected, seen, and heard.
Now, if inclusion is all about behaviors, then what exactly are inclusive behaviors?
Inclusive behaviors result in others feeling comfortable and safe enough to bring their true authentic selves to work, especially those from underrepresented or historically disadvantaged groups.
Inclusion looks like asking about and learning from others' unique perspectives and amplifying the thoughts and ideas of marginalized group members. We like to break down inclusive behaviors into three major categories, as shown in the figure below.
The easiest to implement are behaviors that we refer to as "everyday inclusion," or the small actions we can take to make others feel valued, respected, seen, and heard. Examples include (but are not limited to):
Showing someone that you are actively listening as they speak
Turning your body toward someone entering a room
A simple smile
Making an effort to pronounce someone's name correctly or get their pronouns right
Inclusive leadership behaviors are the specific actions formal leaders can take to build the right cultures to encourage and enforce inclusive behaviors and maximize the benefits of diversity to working teams.
And finally, allyship is when people take deliberate actions in partnership with those they aim to serve, achieving the shared goals of fairness, equity, and justice—together. I always say we should never call ourselves allies but rather treat the term ally as a verb. When it comes to inclusion, it's not about labeling ourselves as "inclusive" or "allies," but the actions we take to support and advocate for others, especially those different from us.
Being inclusive is not who we are but what we DO. It's our choice in every interaction to see and hear others for who they are. To not just accept our differences but actively seek out and embrace different views and celebrate what makes us unique.
The specific action isn't as important as the result: recognizing a person—especially those from historically disadvantaged groups—for who they really are and that they belong.
Unsure of which inclusive behaviors have the most impact on the unique identity groups in your organization? We got you covered with our Mattingly Inclusion and Belonging Assessment. Click here to learn more.