Businesses/Organizations: The Importance of Inclusion
Recently, a lot of us have heard the terms DEI or EDI. Both are acronyms standing for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Each of these items, individually and collectively are extremely important for any group, organization or business. To effectively create a welcoming space for marginalized individuals, these practices must be fully implemented.
In a Pan-Asian connection group I am in, not long ago, we talked about our experiences in the Chippewa Valley. While a lot of different themes seemed to circulate, with almost everyone having identical shared experiences, inclusion was highly ranked as a need that was not being met.
As I listened and observed in the group, I realized that there were many individuals within the Pan-Asian community who were very well known within their individual spaces for their talents. Yet, they were almost never asked to participate in things that were specifically related to their skills. Why? Because people outside their spaces don't know about them, and it is assumed by many organizations that if someone is interested in doing something, they will apply or contact them to be involved.
Why is this specific example important? It shows the values that many companies and organizations have when it comes to inclusion. And this holds true for virtually every marginalized group. When individuals are well known in their own communities for their skills, but go completely unrecognized and underutilized by those outside those spaces, it is both demeaning, and demoralizing to be expected to continually seek out opportunities versus being sought out. Especially when they have not been welcomed into these spaces in the past.
"Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued." - Claudia Brind-Woody
A huge part of inclusion is value. People need and want to feel valued. That they matter and are welcomed in a safe space. That they don't have to assimilate to feel like they belong. Not providing this, causes individuals to feel "less than", and reduces morale overall. It stifles different ideas and growth.
As a company or organization, it is vital that meaningful connections are continually formed with multiple individuals in different spaces in the community. This helps:
Recognize talents and skills that are available, without tokenizing people
Hear different voices in each space, instead of a single individual to represent the entire group
Shows commitment to DEI/EDI
Broadens opportunities for diverse ideas and points of view
Identifies connections and points of contact for questions or opportunities within each community
Further pushes the importance of value and inclusion in the community overall
I say multiple individuals, because too often, companies or organizations have a single person on a board, or part of their organization who is expected to serve and represent an entire community. While we want to continue to include and value individuals in these positions, it further promotes tokenism, without putting emphasis on diversity and inclusion as a whole.
Getting to know and networking with multiple individuals in different communities opens up many more opportunities. It promotes true growth by placing value on what they have to say. People outside your organization offer insight from a fresh, outside perspective. Listen, value, and implement what they have to say. Staying connected with multiple individuals, also prevents complacency and promotes continual progressive change.
It is important to note, that people providing guidance and expertise should be PAID for their time and contribution. Expecting those to take their time and knowledge, and put themselves in a vulnerable position, without being compensated, does not promote inclusion and value.
As a community, we need diverse voices. As many of them as we can get. While many people have shared experiences, putting value on their individual experiences, places value on people, not just groups.
When people feel valued, we can all do and accomplish great things.
*Interested in learning more about DEI/EDI and implementing it into your business or organization? Contact us