How Inclusion Happens

On November 18, 2019, in Editorial Advisory Board, HRExaminer, Joe Gerstandt, by Joe Gerstandt

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“Inclusion is an experiential outcome, the experience of being consistently and fully included. That experience is largely the product of behaviors, especially the behaviors of ones manager and co-workers. If you want to change the way that an employee is experiencing the workplace, for example to make it a more inclusive experience, then there is no bigger lever than those behaviors.” - Joe Gerstandt


Tell me if this sounds familiar.

Company ABC decides it is serious about diversity and inclusion. So it forms a committee. After a few meetings, said committee becomes The Diversity Council. Soon there is a formal statement of commitment and a business case. The council decides to hire someone to manage diversity and council. Writing the job description takes forever, filling the position takes longer. Company ABC starts to sponsor events and hang posters. Maybe there is a presentation or two. And at this point someone gives Company ABC an award for their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

This is what we do, over and over again. It is not uncommon for an organization to spend two years doing basically what is covered above. And in the meantime, nothing really changes.

Councils and committees and plans and statements can have real value, but they have little direct impact on the day to day experience of employees. A company can do all of the above things, and do them well, without impacting at all how included employees feel.

Joe Gerstandt, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor.

Joe Gerstandt, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board Contributor.

Inclusion is an experiential outcome, the experience of being consistently and fully included. That experience is largely the product of behaviors, especially the behaviors of ones manager and co-workers. If you want to change the way that an employee is experiencing the workplace, for example to make it a more inclusive experience, then there is no bigger lever than those behaviors.

Delineate inclusive behaviors and practices from those that are not inclusive, this is where real change begins.

You can then begin to weave those behaviors and practices into job descriptions, interview questions, hiring decisions, promotion decisions and performance evaluations – all of which allows you to set expectations and actually hold folks accountable. 

It is a rare organization that has real accountability relative to inclusion today, most continue to hire, retain, and promote folks that are not willing to behave or lead in inclusive ways at the same time they try to bring more diversity into their workforce.