Inclusion Works

November 8, 2016 | Diversity & Inclusion, Overcoming Bias

There’s been so much going on this fall! But it didn’t escape my notice that National Disability Employment Awareness Month just passed in October, and this year’s theme was “#InclusionWorks.”

Authentic inclusion is a vision that is near and dear to me.

It’s a goal that I strive for in my personal life and in my work at TMI. A truly inclusive workplace reflects not only the vibrant mosaic of the community, but the amazing things we can accomplish together when each tile get its chance to shine. After all, we can’t know what another person is truly capable of unless we let them show it.

Matthew Freeman and I highlight the value of inclusion in our newly published book, Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences.

In Chapter Two, “Start With You,” we suggest ways in which you can more fully embrace difference, including how you can help make a team more inclusive.

You can create meaningful collaborations that go beyond just sitting at a table — or sharing office space – with people of diverse genders, ethnicities, abilities, and/or sexual orientations.

To get started, try seeing if you can meet the following criteria in daily interactions:

  1. All group members have equal status.
  2. Opportunities for meaningful personal encounters are available.
  3. Participants are interdependent and working toward a common goal.
  4. Stereotypes are actively disconfirmed.
  5. The group actively supports equality.

When you think about it, these conditions boil down to mutual respect, cooperation, and a willingness to speak up when you see a member of the group being excluded due to preconceived notions.

Remember that players can be left out of the game even when they’re on the field with the rest of the team. Do their teammates pass the ball to them? Do the other players realize that they want the team to score as much as everybody else does?

Recognizing that we all want to make valuable contributions to collective efforts helps us to see ways we can encourage inclusion among our friends, family, and workmates. And when we begin to really tap into the talents that surround us, everybody wins.

As the 2016 National Disability Awareness Month duly points out, inclusion does work.