In this post, I share a reflection by a friend of mine and offer prompts for you to consider how we can all contribute to inclusive environments.
After watching my TEDx talk, “How to become an inclusive leader,” a friend of mine shared: “I worked in a male-dominated engineering industry—oil and gas. We had female engineers. All the way back to the ’80s, we had female engineers. I never saw them treated differently. But, I never thought about how they might feel in that environment. Great talk. Thought-provoking.”
Tommy’s reflection really hit me as an authentic and genuine ah-ha moment. He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and I bet as an engineering colleague, he was just as kind to everyone. But kind doesn’t always mean inclusive.
You see, so often, the treatment marginalized and minoritized individuals receive is subtle. It is almost unnoticeable to someone from the dominant group unless they are actively paying attention. For people like my friend, it likely never occurred to him to think about how others felt because it felt normal to him. It doesn’t make him a bad person, it makes him unaware and perhaps unintentionally complicit in the subtle exclusion of others. Anyone from a dominant group, myself included, has done this.
I believe, however, that once we learn to recognize inequities and expand our consciousness, we can take action to do something. This pattern is what changes environments and outcomes for everyone.
Ultimately, people need to perceive that they are valued members of a team, and they need to experience treatments that meet their needs for belongingness and uniqueness in the workplace. Inclusive leadership can meet these two needs, not to mention it can also improve attendance, performance, collaboration, and turnover.
The reflection and discussion prompts I want to leave you with today are:
- How often do you think about how others feel?
- Are you attentive to meeting people’s needs for belongingness?
- How do you make others feel valued and included?