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How We Can All be More Inclusive

To mark National Inclusion Week, Hannah Waddington, HR consultant shares her thoughts on how we can all be more inclusive at work by challenging our own stereotypes and having open conversations.

Inclusion and diversity are essential in today’s workplace because a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds give us the balance of voices and thoughts that we need. A healthy balance of different people from different backgrounds encourages greater innovation, creativity, and happier employees.

It is not always easy to know the right things to do or say, however by thinking about how we express our own values and inclusive behaviours we can help others show their inclusive selves in the workplace. Here are some ways we can all take a step towards being more inclusive.

1. Challenge stereotypes

Whether it be about unconscious biases, lack of information, the influence of the media, or teachings coming from our cultural and social beliefs, stereotypes can lead to actions and reactions that can sometimes be exclusive and unfair. When meeting someone new, recognise the power that your own biases have, how they are making you feel. Think before you assume.

2. Be proactive in educating yourself on the topic

Educate yourself in co-workers backgrounds. Listen to them when they tell you about their religious celebrations. By doing a simple research online, you can find many articles on the topic of inclusion.

If you are active on social media try to follow account of people who advocate on the topic, accounts that educate about inclusion and equality. It doesn’t matter which channels you use to inform yourself, but it matters that you do it in a proactive way.

3. Pronouns

It’s ok to ask which pronoun an individual prefers; in fact, it is seen as a positive trait showing your curiosity and acceptance. By doing this you welcome everyone into the conversation, and you lead by example to the rest of your team.

4. Respond from a place of personal experience

When contributing to a conversation use lines like “in my opinion” or “based on what I have read and learned” or “according to my experience”. Don’t dismiss or dispel contributions from other people. This is important and regardless of whether you agree, it helps keep the conversation open to all.

If you feel that an opinion is so different from yours then try using the terms like, ‘That’s a different perspective’ or ‘I see your point of view’ or ‘I never thought of it that way’. This again keeps the conversation inclusive.

5. Think about how you communicate

Be patient, always listen and allow others to speak and express themselves. Respect the time of the person you are addressing, give them your full attention by being sensitive and understanding that interruption and over-talking can imply.

By taking these small actions they can make a big difference!