“No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.” ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi
Being included may not always be thrilling. Yet most of us, I suspect, appreciate being invited and involved.
Basically, inclusive refers to the extent to which we welcome a broad range of backgrounds and interests, taking into account issues of language, ethnicity and culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status and disability (or as a wise blogger taught me, ‘diffability’).
A colleague directs diversity and inclusion programs for a large, global business. I recently heard him speak about the proactive measures his company is taking to integrate and enrich diversity and inclusion, worldwide. What he shared, even though it was specific to the workplace, prompted me to reflect on how we consciously and unconsciously, include and exclude.
How often do you go out of your way to include people? How frequently (even after-the-fact) do you realize you inadvertently omitted or forget to invite others? Perhaps our knee-jerk response is ‘I always invite others,’ until we see or are reminded of an unintentional exclusion. It happens. Yet it need not happen.
Inclusion connects us to innovation and happiness. It’s true! It invites and allows us to make better decisions about the future when all voices are heard – especially younger and elderly voices.
Embracing diversity can bridge cross-cultural divides. Just think of the last time(s) you found yourself in a different cultural setting. Were you open to experiencing all of the newness or were you inclined to stay within your comfortable cocoon? Did you encourage others to share unique aspects of their lives and thinking or were you too tethered to your own beliefs and norms?
Take potlucks; potlucks are cool. And they’re making a comeback. The act of gathering with others to eat homemade food has health benefits. Merely inviting a diverse group of people to get together, to enjoy one another’s concoctions and to have a good time can be an amazing way to foster connections and build relationships. Simply because people were included.
Most of us know how to be inclusive and to create more positive environments. What helps to foster inclusivity is when our actions are intentional. If you are interested in simple inclusion starters, here are three for your consideration:
- When you have the chance, introduce people. Find that shy individual at a social or networking event and introduce them to someone they don’t know. Invite others into a conversation.
- Become a mentor, even if informally. Consider the wide variety of people you interact with, then make an effort to help another person to more openly understand and communicate with others. Think: encouraging action.
- Simply smile. People are put to ease at this simple facial cue. Building a rapport with someone, discovering more about them and listening to what they have to say builds trust and inclusiveness. The thrill of a smile can go a long way. 🙂