A quick guide to Inclusion Passports

The Inclusion Passport aims to support positive conversations between managers and direct reports, so that individuals needs can be understood and met in the workplace. Debbie Epstein, Head of Inclusion and Diversity (Sport), explains more about what they are and how to use Inclusion Passports and how they can benefit your organisation.

Read on to find out.

What is an Inclusion Passport?

At Inclusive Employers, an Inclusion Passport (developed from an original concept by the House of Lords) is a document that allows individuals to capture what helps them work best, feel included and be supported.

Described as a voluntary “talking tool”, the Inclusion Passport aims to aid constructive and positive conversations between managers and employees.

Why do Inclusion Passports matter?

For me, one of the most important aspects of inclusion is creating environments where we can share our differences. Not only to improve the quality of the conversations at work through our different perspectives but to increase the understanding and awareness of others so we create safe workplaces where it is comfortable and expected that we will ask for what we need to do our best work.

The Inclusion Passport is a brilliant tool for this. It helps to initiate a conversation between managers and direct reports about anything they might need to help them succeed at work.

It does not rely on the staff member to initiate the conversation, it helps to normalise the conversation and makes it clear that the organisation recognises that we all have differences. It highlights that these differences are welcome and valued, and that what has gone before might not work perfectly for everyone and that this is not an inconvenience but is actually pretty wonderful!

Traditionally, disability or reasonable adjustment passports have focused on what disabled colleagues need in terms of adjustments. However, more recently, passports have broadened to encompass the breadth of differences we bring to the workplace and can be a great tool (if the intention is right) to instigate these conversations.

The benefits of Inclusion Passports

Here are some benefits of using Inclusion Passports in the workplace:

They begin structured and important conversations

Some of us are great at initiating these types of conversations and for some of us, it’s a bit more awkward.

For some, in the busyness of the working day, it might not occur to us that the policies, processes or arrangements in place could mean some colleagues are at a disadvantage. Or, that a particular aspect of our management style or the way we run meetings might not work perfectly for all our staff.

Research suggests that the anxiety about these types of conversations; where a staff member would benefit from an adaptation or a minor change, can play on colleagues’ minds and prevent them from doing their best work and perhaps asking for simple alterations altogether.  

And we know there is a real cost to staff ‘covering’ and developing workarounds to avoid having that difficult conversation where they share the reality of who they are and their situation.

Continuous support is in place

A conversation that is structured around the Inclusion Passport during a colleague’s induction period and then every six months, so that it is a live document, creates that opportunity and moment in time to reflect on the way we work, rather than specific tasks and deadlines. 

It asks the right questions phrased in the right way, which makes it a reliable tool to guide the conversation so that both parties can focus on listening and connecting with each other. 

Repeating this process regularly means that information gathered remains up to date, reflects changing circumstances and whether the adaptations are still working.

A record is kept

The Inclusion Passport also helps to reduce the worry associated with having to repeat the details of our personal situations to different colleagues within the business or when we change line managers. The Inclusion Passport moves with us and provides a record of what has been previously agreed. 

This also helps to reassure employees that adaptations agreed on once do not need to be renegotiated again if we choose to take a new position in the business.

How to create an Inclusion Passport

So, the good news is that amongst our member resources we already have a best practice example of an Inclusion Passport available to our members.

It includes separate guidance on how to complete the Inclusion Passport, along with a form template, both of which help to guide the conversation and ensure that the relevant information is collected. 

Questions cover areas such as the individual’s work and communication preferences and anything outside of work that could impact their ability to perform their role within work.  Alongside this, there is a section where the staff member and manager can agree on any support/adaptations and when they will be reviewed.

If you’re not yet a member – don’t worry, we can still help. Get in touch today if you’re interested in Inclusion Passports, and we can discuss the best way forward.

How to introduce Inclusion Passports into your workplace

You could just introduce Inclusion Passports into your workplace with very little fanfare or preparation. 

However, we recommend preparing the ground to ensure the introduction receives a positive reception and has the desired impact. 

Preparations might include:

  • Consulting with colleagues, staff networks, HR, Trade Unions and your legal team so that they have had input into the guidance/form, understand its purpose and are onboard with any actions they might need to take to promote it and ensure it works smoothly.
  • Ensuring that there is signposting and sources of support available to managers and HR as needed, so that they can supportively respond to staff requests that emerge from Inclusion Passport conversations.
  • Once the form has been tailored to your environment and agreed, identifying whether there are particular learning needs for groups of staff. Do managers need additional training in their responsibilities, how and where to get support with any adaptations and how to confidently use the Passport within a supportive conversation? Are HR or Occupational Health prepared for receiving more queries from managers about adaptations and how to use the form?
  • Piloting the Passport in a small area of the organisation first might be something you want to consider, to work through any teething issues.
  • Developing an on-going communications strategy to promote the Passport, its value to colleagues across the organisation and examples of the great conversations and learning it is stimulating.
  • Evaluating the impact of the Inclusion Passport – invite those that have used it to let you know how its working, the impact it is having and how it could be improved.

How Inclusive Employers can help

Here at Inclusive Employers, we have various resources that can help with inclusion support and starting conversations.

If you’re a member, take a look at our Inclusion Passport guidance and speak to your account manager. If you’re not yet a member, get in touch today to see how we can help.