08 Oct 2020
We hear the word inclusion bandied around a lot in business, but what does it actually mean and who are we including?
As a Diversity and Inclusion consultant since 2009, this is something I have often questioned my clients about. “We want to be inclusive” they say, but often they are not really clear on who they want to include.
Firstly, let’s look at what inclusion, diversity, culture and equity actually mean:
Diversity is an understanding that each individual is unique, and recognises our individual differences. These can be differences such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.
Culture in the broader sense can be explained as: “The way we do things around here” it encompasses norms, values, beliefs, food, customs, music, dress and behaviours. There are cultures that cover race and ethnicity but there are also cultures based around identity, workplaces and locations.
Inclusion put simply, is the sate or action of being included, this can be in a group or structure. That all people, regardless of their identity, abilities, background or health care needs, have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities and to be provided with the opportunity to engage by reducing barriers.
Equity is providing everyone what they need to achieve the same outcome as others, meeting people where they are at, not necessarily treating everyone the same.
Now, who might we want to include?
“There are many demographic groups to explore when we are looking at inclusion. They are often people who have barriers to accessing your business and they may suffer stigma or discrimination based on their actual or perceived difference.”
Most people think of diversity and inclusion being only about race (Multicultural/Culturally and Linguistically Diverse or CALD and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander).
Others may think about Disability, while others may look at Diverse Sexuality, Gender identity or Sex (LGBTIQ+). All of these are the main diversity lens that businesses may explore, but there are also people of diverse Faith/Spirituality, Women, People of Colour who may not have a different culture or race (POC) and those marginalised due to a stigmatised illness (HIV or Hepatitis C). And many of these diverse groups also have their own culture, in the broader sense of the word.
“In the business and corporate worlds inclusion is one of the current buzz words and it is important that businesses ensure that it is not just lip service.”
As an inclusion consultant since 2009 I have worked with many organisations, corporate, government and not for profit on their inclusion journey. I am pleased to currently be involved with businesses such as Inclusive Creatives, who ensure that inclusivity is evident in all that they provide.
So when looking at inclusion within your organisation or business, be clear about what you mean and who you are talking about….don’t just talk the talk actually make the changes to reduce the barriers for people to access and be included in the services you offer.