Previously I introduced the concept of inclusivity and my recent investigations into this space through presenting papers at a number of international conferences.
I chose the definition from the Collins English Dictionary, which stated that inclusivity was ‘the fact or policy of not excluding members or participants on the grounds of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, etc’.
The first level of building inclusivity starts with the individual. At a recent conference I presented at in Lagos, Nigeria, I said to the 300 participants: “Change starts with you.” To build inclusive project teams we need to understand our own views, values and beliefs on culture, gender, class, sexuality, disability etc. How we can start that is through some reflective practice.
As part of team or individual development workshops and coaching sessions I facilitate, I encourage people to examine their thoughts, beliefs and attitudes in these areas. It can be a challenging process for people. It can also be incredibly freeing.
Some questions that I would encourage you to answer:
- What is culture, gender, ability, class to me?
- What is my own profile here?
- What are my core beliefs around the aspects of inclusivity?
- What are my beliefs about others who are different?
- What are these beliefs based on?
- What is the affect of my belief on my life, my work, my social relationships?
- Do I need to challenge my beliefs?
For these questions to be answered we are looking for deeper reflection. I provide consulting and training services to a range of organisations and individuals. When I work with some of my clients around building inclusivity especially in a large change program or a merger or global organisation, I sometimes find it is a bit like an onion as you work through the various layers, understand the history, the philosophy and your own imprinted beliefs.
The good news is that beliefs and attitudes can shift for the positive using a strengths based approach. It does take work, it does take an open mind and it does take learning from the mistakes that most inevitably will occur from time to time.
In my next blog I will provide some key questions around raising team inclusivity. Project teams are temporary. So the quicker we are able to build a high functioning and inclusive team, the better the results will be throughout our project.