Sunday, November 16, 2014

Inclusion Starts with Me

The most amazing thing happened to me this week. On the scale of world peace or global warming it would fall into decimals, of course, but personally for me it was a serendipitous revelation.

I was typing away an invitation brief for guest speakers for a global Diversity & Inclusion event that we organise in December, when the autocorrect function all of a sudden decided to give me a lesson in personal accountability. For some (only Microsoft known) reason, Word started changing "D&I", typically standing for "Diversity & Inclusion", to "D&me", a grammatically correct but somewhat corporate-lingo-awkward coinage. This got me thinking...

Inclusion cannot be forced onto you. It's either you make a point of stopping by everyone's office in the morning saying "hi" or not. It's either you eat on your own or you invite everyone to join in. It's either you pause and ask if everyone understands or keep going just to get to the end of your presentation in time. Small things matter a great deal.

The times when corporate policies were rife with non-D&I clauses and restrictions are drifting away: most of big firms now have their people guidelines checked and D&I-proofed, and here's where it really comes to me, as an individual: diversity is easier to promote and check, while inclusion is a mindset that must be shared by everyone, otherwise it won't work. What I mean by that is that you can get together the most diverse team possible, ticking off all the boxes on your Diversity dashboard, but until those people respect each other, consider each other's opinions on their merit and without prejudice and account for individual differences in every smallest way, true inclusion would be out of sight. It is as small as a micro-inequity or comment in passing. It is as big as including someone from communication or a social routine.

I've reinforced something in my own mind this week, thanks to Word and Bill Gates. Diversity is everybody's business, but Inclusion starts with me.

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