Last week was National Inclusion Week – an opportunity to raise awareness of inclusion in the workplace. At Standard Life Aberdeen we’ve celebrated with lots of activities across the company – with much of this led by our fantastic employee networks and championed by our co-CEOs.
While this is one week in the year, it’s important that we think about inclusion every day – in how we work with our colleagues, in how we deliver for our clients and customers, in how we choose partners to work with and in how we make our contribution to creating inclusive societies across our global markets.
In fact, the theme of this year’s National Inclusion Week is ‘Everyday Inclusion’.
What we know is that inclusive companies have increased engagement of their people, increased retention and intent to stay, a stronger reputation for both potential employees and clients; and stronger commercial results.
These are the companies for whom thinking about inclusion is part of the DNA of the business and where this is reflected through all the daily decisions and actions which are taken.
What we also know is that this is an agenda where simple practical steps, executed relentlessly and taken by people at all levels of the company, can have a significant impact. So it’s one we can create together.
So, how do we do that?
One way to make it simple is to think about the practical changes or ‘nudges’ we can take. These are the small adjustments which can have a significant effect. For example:
- Hitting the ‘pause’ button after conversations to challenge any split-second talent or hiring decisions
- Using the question ‘why not?’ to think about the ways in which your working environment could be more agile and what benefits this brings
- Bringing in a neutral observer to your team meetings to offer feedback on whether everyone is truly ‘at the table’ and what you might not see when you’re caught in in daily decision making
- Valuing difference as a selection criteria to bring different thinking or experience to your team - in role and by simply inviting a colleague into offer their thoughts on a piece of work
- Changing the language from ‘inclusion is hard’ or ‘it’s not possible in our team’ to asking questions like ‘am I really saying I want to work in a team where we think the same?’. And if not, then start asking what a next possible step can be.
The other simple next step is to have a conversation. Taking 15 minutes at a team meeting to talk about how you can create a more inclusive environment and then following this up with check-ins, is a great way to understand each other better and to take everyday action together.
It’s an hour out of the year but which can have a big impact on how you and your colleagues feel.
Inclusion is about us all. So have a think. Have a go. And help to create a truly inclusive place where everyone can be themselves – a place where you can be you.