Somewhere in their delightful book, Switch, Dan and Chip Heath write “What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.” I believe this to be true and especially true when it comes to D&I work. I would say that the lack of clear, concise, common language and logic is Mistake #1 that organizations make…and almost all of them make it.
In the past 10 years, inclusion has become an incredibly popular word, it is today one of the most popular words in the workplace, right up there with innovation and engagement. It is not at all difficult today to find organizations and leaders that are quick to let you know that they are indeed inclusive. What is hard to find is someone that can explain what that means.
And…if you cannot explain to me what it is, I am pretty sure you are not doing it.
This is a body of work that does face some actual resistance, but a lot of folks simply do not know what in the hell we are talking about…and that is on us.
I think that today, the word inclusion, is used primarily to parade our good intentions in front of others.
Despite the popularity of the word, inclusion remains, inside most organizations, a vague, ambiguous concept involving some notions of tolerance and respect, fairly vague concepts on their own.
It may not be exciting, but this foundational work…having a common language, having clear and concise definitions is some of the most important work you can do if you are serious about delivering an inclusive employee experience. Until you can speak very clearly and concisely about where we are going, it is that much more difficult to figure out what we need to do to get there and what to measure along the way.
What does inclusion mean to you / your organization?
What are we including people in?
Who are we wanting to include?
What does it mean to be included, how is being included different from not being included?
What does the work of inclusion consist of?
What are the indicators of inclusion? What are the indicators of not being included?
You may have some wonderful programs, and you may have the best workplace posters and potlucks, but if the answers to these questions are not fairly straightforward for your organization then you are building on a foundation that will eventually betray you. Your work should be here, the clock is ticking.
Originally published on The Value of Difference blog.
See Joe Gerstandt speak on Inclusion by Design at the 2016 SHRM Diversity and Inclusion Conference.