Celebrating Truly Inclusive Workplaces

Boiling the achievements of the first nine years of Inclusive Employers down to one ‘greatest moment’ has been a super hard task. Part of me wanted to focus on specific pieces of work, part of me wanted to focus on campaigns and part of me wanted to focus on the amazing achievements of our members, because, after all, our job has always been to support inclusion in your organisations.

Here goes my thinking on what is a super satisfying achievement and one that has resulted in the greatest impact.

In 2015, we did a review of all the programmes and initiatives we’d been involved in and threw it all up in the air. We shifted focus to a new world of inclusion that we believed would be relevant and resonate on a much wider level… We introduced the practice of Everyday Inclusion.

We did this initially in our work with members and then through our annual campaign, National Inclusion Week. It was rooted in stripping back the pomp and ceremony of the diversity and inclusion world. Getting real and focusing on the everyday things that everyone can do to make inclusion real: the behaviours of inclusion rather than the initiatives of diversity. We kept the commitment to positive actions lively and innovative, and we married this with a simplicity of Everyday Inclusion.

Even in 2016, it felt super appropriate. And now of course, in our new 2020 world of work, it seems even more relevant. Inclusion is a living experience, it is an experience of the moment (or not), it is about humanity, empathy, self-awareness and curiosity. Everyday Inclusion has been adopted widely in strategies, in approaches and in messaging. It seems to be something that cuts through the whole ‘initiative thing’, that organisations have for so long hung inclusion and diversity on, and repositioned to action by everyone. There is a dearth of theory on inclusion and diversity and although much of it is useful it says the same thing, over and over again.

What is making change is when people connect their everyday actions with inclusion. They can start to see that it is about the things we can all do, the simple steps we can all take, to make inclusion an everyday reality. The theory has only ever worked for certain groups of people anyway, and I confess, I have lapped it up for many years. What I find much more powerful now is hearing about the lightbulb moments for people when they understand inclusion through the everyday – almost through the ordinary – not through the extraordinary.

I feel super chuffed that the work we did on this a few years back brought us and many of our members and followers to this simplicity, to Everyday Inclusion. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for academic responses to inclusion, but if we want to engage a wider group of colleagues making inclusion real to them is critical, and it is working.