Inclusion. Sounds simple enough. Maybe too simple though…

What does it actually mean to be an inclusive organisation?

That you don’t discriminate against individuals on the grounds of age, gender, marital status, sexuality, colour, race, religion, disability or when pregnant/on leave? Yes.

That you put policies and processes in place to prevent the possibility of such discrimination? Yes.

That you speak widely of the virtues and benefits of the diverse employee talent you have as a result of such policies? Yes.

That it means you continue to attract a diverse talent pool? Yes.

That you retain that diverse talent pool? No, not necessarily.

Policies only go so far for true long term inclusion. Processes reach a little further.

Inclusion is a Personal Experience

It’s not just a policy. Circumstances, conversations and expectations either allow us to lean in, or to lean out. It’s what you as an employer do to support those circumstances that dictates whether you are truly achieving inclusivity or not.

Anything that compromises someone’s ability to join in?  That’s exclusion.

The difficulty is that it may look to you that your talent is lacking in ambition, in practical scaffold, in initiative, in leadership.

Yet the truth is that they have most likely become disengaged, uncertain of their value in your organisation, underwhelmed. They are likely to be looking elsewhere. Sure they might stay for the flexible working for a while but long term, they’re keeping their eyes open.

Take a Closer Look

Let me give you some frank examples:

If your talent is a viable prospect for a promotion but the performance grading system can’t see past the 6 months of maternity leave, that is exclusion.

If your parent talent cannot attend evening networking events that are critical to his/her career prospects, that is exclusion.

If your systems don’t allow for person centred conversations around maternity leave, that is exclusion.

If you’re not supporting your talent to review all the options available to them, that is exclusion.

What Can You Do About It?

Take a closer look. Inclusion is a verb. As more and more organisations are starting to pick up the baton and run faster and harder to attract and retain the best talent, it’s not enough to just talk.

When you live and breathe it, when your line managers are well versed, when your approaches are person centred, when you look at the detail of real experience, diversity is the outcome.

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