The Complexity of Inclusion in Organisations

Inclusion is complex despite the positivity surrounding it and the recent promoting of inclusion within organisations. To develop ways of living and working inclusively we need to start with that standpoint.

An example of this would be an organization that requires its people to be inclusive, with a focus on religious competence and respect for teh purpose of explaining this piece. Yet, that can counteract with some religious beliefs, in and of itself. It’s no longer inclusive of the religious beliefs of the person who’s religion requires them to reject the religious beliefs of others or of the person who’s beliefs are non-religious.

There is a preference for us just to get along sometimes and to “just be inclusive” rather than working with the complexity of being inclusive.

Rather than focusing on respecting each other’s religious beliefs, we can move to not to disrespect each other based on our religious beliefs in the workplace and to respect each person, as a person with an experience of their own and in that way, it doesn’t require us to respect their beliefs or values allowing us to practise inclusive behaviours without accepting or embracing another beliefs/values.

WITH INCLUSION, THERE IS THIS TENSION

In order to include everyone, we will inevitably create tension between opposing views or experiences, worldviews, personalities, religious and cultural norms. When inclusion attempts to keep everyone included but ignores the tensions that exist within inclusion then it leaves individuals and organizations with political correctness but not inclusion.

Fundamentally to inclusion is the ability to accept that there are tensions that exist within inclusion, and in the attempt to simplify these tensions often results in unintended exclusion or the devaluing of one person’s experience over another.

One of the ways that I believe is most powerful to work with inclusion within work settings is to build in a process of inclusion that allows for tensions to exist without devaluing or dismissing an individual, their values or experiences. This can seem counterintuitive to some of the inclusion movements that have happened before.

IN THIS APPROACH, WE ARE ACCEPTING DIFFERENCE AND WE ARE ACCEPTING THAT PEOPLE WILL EXPERIENCE THAT DIFFERENCE DIFFERENTLY.

Some of these tensions aren’t effective to simplify and resolve, they must coexist with the practice of inclusion. It acknowledges that inclusion is everybody’s business and that each one of us will have challenges with inclusion for different reasons.

This raises all sorts of tensions and challenges for people, “How do I show respect to a person without respecting their value system?”, “ How do I manage my microaggressions because it impacts a person negatively?” even though I don’t necessarily believe in what they believe in or the challenges that they’re telling me they’re experiencing.

HOW DO WE BRING INCLUSION INTO OUR WORK WITHOUT NATURALLY EXCLUDING PEOPLE WHO HAVE A VALUE SYSTEM THAT DOESN’T ALIGN WITH INCLUSION?

HERE ARE SOME OF THE PRACTICES THAT HAVE EMERGED IN MY WORK AND WITH OTHERS:

  • Inclusion requires me to have the ability to understand that my worldview is privileged in ways different from others and therefore influences what I can accept and absorb from another person’s experience or beliefs.
  • Inclusion is something we practice and is often something we must commit to when we are working or living with people with opposing beliefs or values.
  • Inclusion requires us to hold an informed position about our own experience without it needing to devalue another person’s experience.
  • Inclusion requires us to appreciate differences and the value add that they bring rather than be distracted by the frustration that things aren’t the way we wish them to be.
  • Inclusion requires us to self-reflect more than externally evaluate or project onto what other people are doing.

True inclusion will bring discomfort into our day-to-day lives and that nobody is exempt from this discomfort regardless of our identities or intersectionality stop.

True inclusion will bring discomfort into our day-to-day lives and that nobody is exempt from this discomfort regardless of our identities or intersectionality stop.

It isn’t that we will all agree or that we will always be on the same page inclusion is that we will work with the reality of what is currently presenting in a way that allows these different positions and perspectives to inform the way forward.

Inclusion is a practice that requires me to be wrong and requires me to be able to accept my errors and commit to new and informed changes. It requires us to be comfortable not being the expert and instead of being the committed learner who is willing to challenge our biased privilege preferences and worldview to understand and connect more effectively with others from other experiences.

One of the tools is helped me with this in my work has been taking a humanistic viewpoint and using mentalization as a way to bring me closer to understanding rather than being blocked by my own preferences biases and othering. Inclusion is an act of practice, not a mandate.

If you want help developing inclusive practice in your organisation, email Sile directly to discuss your needs or read more about the inclusion work she does with organisations here.

Originally posted at www.silewalsh.com/articles/the-complexity-of-inclusion-in-organisations

Executive & Leadership Development Specialist for Individual & Organisational Performance. www.silewalsh.com Podcast: Tilted Coaching #Coachingpsychology

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