Why is inclusion a target many organizations struggle to reach?

This is a question I’ve pondered since entering the workforce.

Early in my career, I found myself working in a role where I was one of the youngest employees. In my next role, I would work for an association struggling to engage young members.

Both of these experiences led to the launch of this business and research on how to successfully manage and build inclusive organizations.

 An inclusion strategy can’t exist on good intentions — it’s about intention meeting impact.

 There have been many points in history when society reflects on its inclusiveness. Here and now, racial inclusion is at the forefront of our discussions, and leaders are seizing this moment to advance diversity efforts at their organizations.

 While their intentions are good, an inclusion strategy simply can’t exist on good intentions alone.

 Throughout my work in this area, I’ve seen organizations misunderstand what an inclusion effort actually involves and make costly mistakes in the process. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

 

Inclusion is not a marketing strategy

During Black History Month, many brands were eager to show solidarity, distributing campaigns and posting commitments. The same reaction occurred after the #MeToo movement. Similarly, many organizations believe social media campaigns are a surefire way to engage young people.

Inclusion ensures everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources, and can fairly and respectfully contribute to the organization’s success. It is not a marketing strategy.

Inclusion is not a job

Right now, many C-suites are thinking about hiring a head of diversity and inclusion, and membership organizations are considering adding the role to their boards of directors. This could be a great addition, but thinking a designated role will make all the difference is a mistake.

Inclusion has to be owned, developed, and supported collectively. One person can’t achieve systemic organization-wide change.

 

How to get it right? 

An inclusion strategy can’t exist on good intentions — it’s about intention meeting impact.

 

  • Practice cognitive diversity, consistently bringing people of different ages, skills, and backgrounds to inclusively work on projects and solve problems together;

 

  • Communicate the organization’s values, identify measurable community-building goals, and offer ways the team can get involved and help;

 

  • Figure out how brand platforms, partnerships, and resources can be leveraged over the long term to build a more inclusive community.

 

If you’re not talking about inclusion or not thinking through your organization’s role and where your leaders can influence positive change, I urge you to start. Take action now.

I’ve seen organizations talk about equity, belonging, engagement -- yet they don’t actually do anything to build more inclusive communities.

Generation Z is already holding organizations accountable for their choices via their own ‘cancel’ culture intiatives, petitions, and protests.

Inclusion isn’t an option anymore. The organizations that will be successful will be those driving change and making room for all to participate and have their voices heard.

 

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