An inclusive culture in an organization is important, but why is it important? In this blog, we as NOM want to show why inclusiveness is important and share practical skills you can apply to make your organization more inclusive.
How do you start talking about inclusiveness?
You know the drill, it's Monday morning, the week has just started and a webinar is immediately on the menu. A 1.5-hour webinar, an inspirational webinar that is. On the spot a bias bubbles up in me, inspirational? I feel a slight skepticism rising to the surface. After all, there's a mountain of work piled up next to me that I could also have gotten rid of in this day and age.
Still, I carefully slide the pile aside so that online it looks like I've cleaned up nicely. It's 9 a.m., the pile follows later, group duty calls. The webinar is about to begin, a webinar on the topic of diversity and inclusion.
Webinar by NoLabels
Ruth Nahumury of NoLabels kicks off the session; ''today we are going to work with your (unconscious) biases about others.'' Ruth continues her talk and explains that she introduces us to six skills from the No Labels RUIMTE Model™. These six skills allow us, as the NOM, to begin to recognize biases and to see beyond people's "labels.
Preventing prejudice in the workplace
If you recognize your own biases, you can take steps in creating an inclusive culture within your organization or team, Ruth points out. Because, only when you make room for an inclusive work environment do you get diversity, which benefits your bottom line in the broad sense.
What is inclusion?
Ruth gives us a brief summary on the topic of inclusion. What is it again? How inclusive you are has everything to do with the environment you grew up in, the movies you watched and watch, the books you read and read. Your norms and values determine your view of others, your perspective on an organization or team. Your view influences the other person's sense of inclusiveness. And vice versa. Is your organization safe enough to express your views? Are you curious about the opinions of others? This is inclusiveness.
Here are the six skills for recognizing biases AND exploiting them. The result after application? An inclusive organization.
The first skill is reflection. As colleagues, ask each other the question; when is someone in an organization considered successful? What worked out very well for NOM was to divide the organization into groups of 3. This way, everyone got the space to say something and think something about something. For us, the definition of success turned out to be fragmented. From achieving a lot of funding, successful exits and no bankruptcies to the extent to which you were given the floor in meetings or were allowed to present things in them.
You can also use this way for reflection for questions such as; what is successful leadership? When is someone considered a talent within the organization? By combining answers, dominant and less dominant answers emerge. You can then filter out very interesting conclusions and to do's.
2. Stepping out of your comfort zone
If we want to increase diversity and create an inclusive work environment, we need to step out of our comfort zone. This, then, is the second skill. This skill requires curiosity about the other person, his or her stories, other ways to be successful or achieve an end goal.
So imagine this: someone makes a suggestion to you to set up the Monday morning meeting differently. ''At my previous job we did it this way''. Most of the organization, at least we recognize this at NOM, says; ''we've tried this before and it doesn't work''. Recognizable right? The door to new opportunities is closed. Try not to think that way. Try to be open to the ideas of others. It can work out really well and give a complete different dimension to a meeting. Don't brush it off too quickly. Look at what new ideas can bring.
3. Intersectional viewing
The reality is that we are not all given equal opportunities and chances in the workplace. And that inequality of opportunity is not just related to whether you are male or female. There is much more at play. Our identity is shaped by different dimensions, such as gender, skin color, heterosexual or homosexual, education, age, financial situation, introvert or extrovert and your position in the organization.
All these dimensions together determine our chances in the labor market. If you want to increase inclusion, it is very important to assess existing and new employees on all these dimensions. Are we overlooking someone with enormous potential, who along the axis of all these dimensions - due to our prejudices - did not stand out at all? Take the list of employees and look at the list from this inclusive point of view.
4. View parking
From your automatic brain, biases arise. These are primarily fueled by associations with persons you have met before. You've probably been involved in a job application process. You meet someone, have spoken to each other for 5 minutes and you think, what a nice person. She is a good fit for our organization. Ask yourself the question; does this person look like me? It is crucial to speak to someone longer, get to know them better and look beyond the "click" that occurs in the first 5 minutes. Before making a decision, slow down, take your time, get to know someone on multiple levels and expand your judgment. Don't go off on the first 5 minutes. Really give someone a chance. Not just the one with whom it clicks immediately.
5. Speaking Inclusive Language
The fifth skill is speaking an inclusive language. The words you choose have an impact on the other person. ''How well you did this, my compliments!'' Can you feel it? A positive forward flow is sparked. Or a different approach; ''if you do it again next time, I would do it differently.'' Just pay attention to a, b, c and d''. Some experience this as constructive, but most of the working population experiences this as negative, inhibiting, and develops an insecurity about trying again next time.
Language is empowering. You are not speaking inclusive language if you talk with words like, he is not Western, he is not heterosexual, she wears a headscarf, she has started a business. Turn these expressions around. He is Surinamese, he is homosexual, she wears a headscarf, she has started a business. Show respect for the other person and don't circle the facts. Or don't diminish achievements made.
6. Empathic ability
Really empathize with the other person. Try to walk in his or her shoes. Thank you for sharing this with me. I'm very glad you told me. I hear what you are saying. Giving an opinion is different for everyone. So is receiving an opinion. The impact of an opinion is different for everyone.
NOM and inclusiveness
You don't integrate the above into your daily existence overnight. How can we motivate and inspire each other to get the best out of ourselves every day? To feel every day that you are allowed to be there, to flourish and grow as a human being in this organization. This comes with trial and error. Don't let experiences throw you off track. Keep trying! Let the above skills motivate you.
In this white paper you will learn:
- That diversity and inclusion further advance businesses
- How difficult it can be to set aside your own prejudices
- What steps you need to take to make work toward greater diversity
Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.