Inclusion is a choreographed team dance

Author: Liisa Tapanainen | Senior Consultant of Talente Consulting |IPTER Finland

There is a clear need to increase inclusion in organizations and there are studies which show that teams who practice diversity and inclusion in action are the most successful. As diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, we need both diversity and inclusion to get different perspectives, to learn from each other, to solve problems together and to understand customer behavior. Our customers are all over the world today and to understand the global customer needs, companies need to have people with different cultural backgrounds, people who can communicate accordingly, and can solve problems effectively. The same solution may not work for all clients and in all cultures, and we might need to communicate differently with our clients in different markets. We can also see, and we definitely want to learn, how some industries have successfully solved problems and are serving customers in a way, that could easily be applied to other industries with a twist.

Many companies have already included diversity in their HR strategy, and they are “ticking the box” for these factors in recruitment: age, gender, ethnicity, religion, cultural background, disability etc. But should diversity be seen much broader, to include knowledge from different industries, educational background and different personality in teams. The recruiting strategy plays an important role in creating diversity, but it is not enough if the company culture is not accepting and valuing this through action. People will not stay with the company if they do not feel safe, accepted and valued.

According to Verna Myers, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance” highlights the acceptance and inclusion in the team.

Inclusion is challenging as it requires creation of psychological safety in the whole organization, where diverse views can be expressed freely, without fear. Celebrating the differences; encouraging open communication; valuing unique perspectives and ideas; and understanding the
value of those quite difficult discussions where you are challenged. We do not always have a full understanding of why other people think the way they do, but as long as we respect their thoughts and are open for dialogue, there is an opportunity to learn and create something new together.

Top performing individuals do not create success alone. It is all about teamwork, and how well we collaborate with each other. Let’s invite diversity for a team dance! The steps may change all the time, but if we learn to listen to our dance partners, understand their different perspectives (and live in action that none are “stupid”), we move to inclusion. We start to create success together, a new choreography which we would never have been able to create alone.

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