Developing inclusivity from within a project team
In my previous posts on project team inclusivity I talked about how change needs to start with reflective practice. Building an inclusive team commences with the individuals of that team being open to explore the concepts I raised and then turning their minds to the collective power that can come from this.
To remind us what is inclusivity I chose the definition from the Collins English Dictionary (2012) that stated that inclusivity was ‘the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc’.
When I was in Africa I heard examples where sometimes the traditional language and area a person lived in affected team formation. This linked to cultural history and beliefs which perhaps put one group above another. The belief that one group is better than another has occurred in all countries, on many occasions, and throughout history due to a set of attributes whether focused on gender, sexuality, ability, ethnicity etc.
So turning to the project team, I focused on the task that the team has. As a team, what are the individual strengths we have? What is the diverse range of attributes we have? What are the unique differences in perspective, skillset, emotional IQ and awareness we can leverage? We might want to answer some of the questions below:
- What is the task we have?
- What are our team beliefs?
- What is our team diversity?
- What are our team strengths based on that diversity?
- What are our team challenges to inclusiveness?
- What is our commitment to overcome those challenges?
- How can we leverage our strengths?
The team leader or manager in particular needs to be a facilitator of building an inclusive team. I have found in these workshops it is often the leader who may need to be challenged the most. He or she is ultimately accountable for the success of the team and therefore needs to be aware of his/her own beliefs and values, and needs to know how to circumnavigate instances when team beliefs and values my impact on delivery performance.
In my next blog I will provide some key questions around raising organisational inclusivity. To get the best results from an individual or team program around inclusivity we need to also channel that into an organisational-wide approach.