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Blog - Valuing Diversity and Inclusion in Lockdown

Valuing Diversity and Inclusion in Lockdown

Posted by Heather McIntosh 15/05/20

Diversity and Inclusion

As part of their current webinar series ‘Being a Great Colleague’, The Institute of Leadership and Management recently shone the spotlight on ‘Appreciating Diversity’, highlighting differences between diversity and inclusion.

The ‘Appreciating Diversity’ element of their Leadership Dimensions model looks at three ‘sub-elements’:

• Inclusivity

• Social sensitivity

• Unconscious bias

Kate Cooper, Head of Research, Policy and Standards pointed to the difference between an organisation’s focus on meeting diversity outcomes usually measured by the ‘who’ and the ‘what’, i.e. what is in place to measure who is represented, recruited and promoted etc, whereas inclusion addresses the ‘how’ and focuses on the day to day behaviours which ‘welcome and embrace diversity’, i.e. make a difference to what it feels like to work in your organisation.

She points out that ‘respect’ is usually placed highly on most organisations declared values, yet reflects on what this really means in terms of behaviour which demonstrates positive regard for all colleagues. Given it’s a stated value, why does an organisation need specific interventions to ensure consistent mutual respect between colleagues?

The key reasons cited as the barriers to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture are identified as:

• People being naturally drawn towards people like themselves

• The majority group put up resistance to new initiatives and change

• People feeling different from the majority may try to cope by conforming to ‘fit in’

• Conscious and unconscious biases persist and lead to exclusion

In our current working context while dealing with the pandemic, these barriers are likely to be even more pronounced.

• Who and how are people being impacted? Are we being proactive in asking?

• Are we valuing different ways of working?

• When people are grappling with different home situations, are we making assumptions and judgements that may not be true?

Guest speaker Professor Kiran Trehan from the University of Birmingham, suggests the best ways to start to build inclusivity and specifically to tackle unconscious bias are to:

• Start with a short programme of, for example, questionnaires to raise awareness and acceptance

• Create a targeted training and development initiative

• Create ‘spaces’ for conversation

Never has this been more critical. People may be feeling isolated and excluded for all sorts of reasons. There is a real danger that inclusion and the importance of culture will slip down the agenda as we deal with the current crisis. But it is ensuring that people feel valued, supported and included that will help all organisations come through this.

We are currently running all our workshops and coaching virtually, so for more information on how we can help you continue to build inclusive teams, even in lockdown, please contact us on:

email or contact us on 01903 732 782

Or to gauge where you are on your inclusion journey and have some practical guidance as to what next steps you could take, see our Steps to Inclusion Review 

Heather McIntosh
Heather McIntosh

Over the last 25 years I have gained extensive experience working with private and public sector organisations seeking to modernise and grow their business through building their managers’ capacity to deliver excellence and get the best from people. When I am not helping others with their professional development I am usually honing my French language skills and still striving to achieve a sub one-hour 10k run!

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