Changing the way Inclusion and Diversity are communicated, from what it is to what it can deliver is the only way to build a sense of community and purpose. We can help people hear the real message if we explore what the benefits are. There is no change without challenge. Challenge can bring about change.
Many a time when I’m facilitating workplace behaviour workshops, there is an initial cynicism from participants; “surely this is just political correctness gone mad” or “people are just way too sensitive” are often the starting points.
What I find fascinating during the sessions is that everyone begins to see that inclusion underpins everything we do, say, and decide. And if we don’t make inclusion a priority in every process and procedure, every action we take, we are in danger of excluding someone and, therefore, not being fair and transparent.
The consequences of a lack of respect and inclusion in the workplace (or anywhere for that matter) have far-reaching effects. Individuals become stressed, undervalued, feel lonely and less productive and take absence or leave. Teams end up working in silos and wasting effort duplicating tasks and missing mistakes that no one is pointing out. The organisation then battles to attract new staff because reputation and morale are low and performance has dropped. Clients pick up on this and stop partnering and calling for business. Exploring the potential consequences is often a real eye-opener for people.
From a poll Focal Point conducted with the Institute of leadership and management webinar “Let’s talk about behaviour now”, we discovered that 76% of employees hadn’t had a conversation about appropriate workplace behaviour. There is a huge assumption in organisations that people must surely know what appropriate behaviour means, but of course, the trouble with assumptions is that they are often wrong! People then only find out when they have not been inclusive and respectful when they have crossed the line or upset someone.
So, as we get started on a new decade, let’s get the conversation going and be open about expected behaviour rather than assuming we all know what everyone else is expecting. Next time you’re with your team ask them “How can we make sure we are being (more)respectful and inclusive with each other” and explore the adjectives that emerge. It’s a fascinating discussion and will instantly raise consciousness about team behaviours.
And next time you find yourself shocked that someone has behaved in the way they have, ask yourself, “Have I assumed that they will behave in the way I expect them to behave” and if so, take some responsibility for clarifying the behaviour.
What will your new year’s resolution for 2020 be?
To see how we have helped other organisations prevent and tackle inappropriate behaviour see our case studies. Please email us or contact us on 01903 732 782 for a confidential discussion to see how we may be able to help you.