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Inclusion: A commitment to continuous improvement and a willingness to challenge and change

Gamiel Yafai, managing director of diversity consultancy Diversity Marketplace and a world-renowned champion of equality and inclusion explains conscious inclusion, a concept of creating a culture that embraces diversity, promotes equity and values the unique contributions of each individual, regardless of their background or identity.


CONSCIOUS INCLUSION is a concept that has gained increasing importance in recent years, particularly in the context of diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace.

Conscious inclusion recognises that simply having a diverse workforce is not enough to ensure that everyone feels valued and included and that ongoing efforts are needed to actively promote a culture of inclusivity where everyone can thrive.

Conscious inclusion requires an intentional and deliberate effort to ensure that everyone’s unique perspectives, experiences and contributions are recognised, respected, and valued. It involves creating a workplace environment where everyone feels they belong, and where they can fully participate and achieve their full potential.

The concept of conscious inclusion encompasses a range of different practices and strategies, including:

  1. Educating employees about unconscious bias and promoting awareness:Unconscious biases are the implicit attitudes and stereotypes that we may hold without even realising it. These biases can affect our perceptions and interactions with others, and can lead to unintentional people preferences, micro inequalities, exclusion and possible discrimination.

Educating employees about unconscious bias and promoting awareness of how it can impact their behaviour is not enough to mitigate our unconscious biases. Conscious inclusion is taking the learning about our biases and intentionally applying them in the workplace by thinking about how my biases can impact on almost every decision that I make.

By being intentional, individuals and organisations can reduce the likelihood of these biases influencing decision-making processes.

  1. Building diverse teams:Actively recruiting and hiring individuals from diverse backgrounds is an important step for building a more inclusive workplace. Diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other dimensions can bring new perspectives and insights to the workplace and can help to break down stereotypes and barriers.

Here we are talking about positive action, not positive discrimination. Positive action is about being proactive in your search and widening your net, tapping into diverse communities and providing additional support. Positive discrimination is recruiting someone because of their race, disability or gender.

Positive action means recruitment is always about finding the best person for the job.

  1. Creating psychological safety at work, where individuals feel safe to speak up, take risks, and express their opinions without fear of negative consequences: Creating psychological safety at work requires conscious inclusion. Here are some ways to create psychological safety in the workplace work.

Encourage feedback: Employees should be encouraged to give feedback and share their thoughts and ideas. Leaders and managers should also be open to receiving feedback and use it constructively.

Foster collaboration: Collaboration helps to build trust and encourages teamwork. Leaders and managers should create opportunities for employees to work together and foster a sense of community.

Recognise and reward good behaviour: Recognise and reward employees who exhibit behaviours that promote psychological safety. This will encourage others to follow suit and create a culture of psychological safety.

Provide training: Provide training to employees on how to communicate effectively, manage conflict and work collaboratively. This will help them to build the skills they need to create and maintain psychological safety.

Emphasise respect: Respect is key to creating a safe and inclusive work environment. Leaders and managers should emphasise respect for others’ opinions and perspectives and work to create a culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Creating psychological safety takes time, effort, and commitment. However, the benefits of a psychologically safe workplace are well worth the investment, including:

Improved creativity;

Increased innovation;

Higher employee engagement and retention.

  1. Promoting culturally aware communication:Conscious inclusion requires that employees communicate respectfully and sensitively with each other, taking into account cultural differences and individual styles. Communication channels should be open and transparent, with opportunities for feedback and discussion.
  2. Providing mentoring and coaching:Organisations should provide mentorship and coaching opportunities to help employees develop their skills and advance their careers. Mentors and coaches can help individuals to overcome obstacles, to build confidence and to navigate workplace dynamics.
  3. Embracing authentic leadership:Leaders must set the tone for a conscious inclusion culture by demonstrating authenticity, transparency and empathy.

Leaders should be able to showcase their vulnerabilities, such as mental health fatigue, disclosing sexual orientation or talking about outer disabilities through case studies, webinars or newsletters. They must also role model behaviours that they expect to see in others.

Conscious inclusion is about creating a culture that embraces diversity, promotes equity and values the unique contributions of each individual, regardless of their background or identity.

It requires a commitment to continuous improvement and a willingness to challenge and change existing systems and structures that perpetuate exclusion and inequality.

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