What is inclusion?

Many of us have thought, what is inclusivity? And what does it mean to be truly inclusive?

Inclusion is critical to society, and we must all work together to make equal and diverse spaces everywhere we go. This does not mean you have to know everything, but understanding what inclusivity means is a good place to start.

Keep reading to learn more about what inclusion is, why it matters and how to improve it.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is a broad subject and is a term that trips off the tongue of many. However, people have different understandings of what the word means.

Cambridge Dictionary’s official definition for inclusion is:

“The act of including someone or something as part of a group, list, etc., or a person or thing that is included.”

Cambridge Dictionary

Simply put, inclusion in the workplace is about ensuring that everyone feels valued and respected as an individual.

Is there a difference between diversity and inclusion?

Many people use the words inclusion, diversity, equality and even equity interchangeably.

However, focusing on inclusion does not prevent us from thinking about, discussing, or acting on diversity and equality.

Equality is about the fair treatment of everyone and is often linked to the legislative framework in the UK, The Equality Act 2010.

Equity is about creating equal possible outcomes for everyone because, despite effort and merit, people can experience substantial barriers in the workplace.

Diversity is the mix of people.

Inclusion is the culture in which the mix of people can come to work, feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, and work in a way that suits them and delivers your business or service needs. Inclusion will ensure that everyone feels valued and importantly, adds value.

What is inclusion in the workplace?

At Inclusive Employers, we focus on workplace inclusion. For us, inclusion is an overarching culture encompassing diversity, equality, and many other aspects of our working lives.

It would be naïve to think that by focusing on inclusion we automatically mitigate the inequalities that exist in the workplace.

With inclusion as our objective, it means that we are much more likely to see greater diversity in our workforces, fair treatment of everyone and greater equality of opportunities as outcomes.

Why is inclusion important in the workplace?

All evidence proves that organisations focused on building a more inclusive culture attract and retain a wider diversity of talent.

The inclusive culture then empowers diverse talent to think differently and share their experiences and perspectives, which in turn is a key driver for innovation, development and engagement.

Inclusive cultures enable our colleagues to do things differently, working in ways that suit them, flex working patterns to ensure their life-work balance is healthy and that they are able to deliver their best for their organisation.

This focus on inclusion equips our colleagues to make a difference, in their well-being and in the success of our organisations.

The world is changing and inclusion is imperative to future-proof our workplaces, with many organisations priding themselves on an inclusive workplace model. However, true inclusion is always ongoing and about consistent learning.

Visit our membership page to find out more about joining us for help with creating a more inclusive workplace.

Understanding the impact of workplace diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are crucial to a successful organisation. However, there will inevitably be challenges along the way.

See below the benefits and challenges of inclusion and diversity at work.

The benefits of inclusion and diversity in the workplace

Feeling included is a key aspect of human life. Many of us can recall a sense of exclusion: moments when we felt left out; other; different; that we weren’t welcome or weren’t appreciated.

Inclusion is the reverse: making people feel welcome; ensuring that it is safe for them to express who they choose to be; demonstrating our appreciation for their input; working collaboratively and showing we care.

People spend the majority of their time at work, so it’s critical that they feel safe and respected. The advantages of inclusion and diversity in the workplace are numerous, with main benefits including a large pool of talent, a positive culture, and mutual respect throughout.

The challenges of diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Inclusivity in the workplace can be challenging. People have different requirements and different things that are important to them.

Some challenges you may face are:

The most important thing is to actively take action to be an inclusive organisation and create a safe space for people to be their most authentic selves.

How to improve inclusion in the workplace

Improving inclusion in the workplace is an ongoing task – people are becoming more comfortable with expressing what they need from a job and what makes them feel safe in the workplace.

Here at Inclusive Employers, we have a huge amount of expert knowledge on all aspects of workplace inclusion.

If you’re looking for support on how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, consider joining us as a member, booking some training exploring our workplace accreditation tool, or attending our webinars. If you’d just like a chat about inclusion and the next steps – get in touch here today.