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How to (successfully) implement an inclusive culture

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

The phrase "diversity and inclusion", which has become commonplace in many organizations, sometimes loses its true meaning in the face of the day-to-day reality and work routine in the organization. So let's first talk about this pair and why it was also crowned as a pair and not as standalone issues and then we will focus on the last word in this pair - inclusion and how to do it in a good and correct way! Come on, let's go.

Okay, so let's get things straight: diversity and inclusion are a common pair of words in the business world especially in the tech world, whose goals are both business and social. "Diversity" basically refers to the diversity of the employees and the management in the organization, so that the organization will include people from all different backgrounds, such as cultural background, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, people with disabilities, people with dark skin tone, and more. The business motivation for diversity comes from many studies that have shown a direct impact on increased profits of organizations that have successfully implemented diversity and inclusion. The same studies show that diversity creates an opportunity for creativity and new ideas which are then expressed in innovation and business leadership.


Wait, so if we implement diversification processes and succeed in the diversification mission, will we achieve the desired business results? Not yet. Diversity in itself may actually create a lot of noise in the organization due to the different characteristics and differences between the people (did someone say "big brother"?). Yes, once we interact with people from different backgrounds we need different understanding and social skills in order to manage communication well. This is where the art of "inclusion" comes in. Inclusion from the term to include, to include everyone, so that everyone will feel they belong and are part of the team. By the way, a concept that describes the opposite of "inclusion" actually comes from the education system, but helps to understand more deeply the essence of inclusion - "boycott". Yes, yes - boycott. I have already seen whole teams that boycotted one of the employees in one way or another, something that always ended in leaving. Once an inclusive culture is embedded in our organization, there is real freedom to express different opinions, fully express thoughts, and collaborate in a quality way.


But hey, how do you assimilate such a culture? And sorry for the question - what is corporate culture anyway? Good question! When I toyed with the thought "How is a corporate culture created?" I took as an example a business in its first stages. Suppose that there was one person in the same business - the founder and the owner. What is the culture at this stage of the business? Obviously! Same culture as the owner. But what does that mean? This means that the owner has values ​​and behaviors that characterize the upbringing and background from which they came. Let's continue with the example: after several months the owner decides to hire another person. Has the culture changed? Probably yes, but in a small manner. Nevertheless, there is another person in the organization who may have slightly different values. Over time, more and more people were recruited until the organization grew significantly. What is the culture of the organization now? It is likely that the DNA of the organization has changed in a more significant way unless the organization has established an "intentional culture".


Okay, so what is intentional culture then? When we say intentional culture, we refer to a set of values ​​and behaviors that the organization has knowingly chosen as those that represent it and that are expressed in different ways, such as example: in company policy, in training for management and employees, and in an ongoing discussion about those values. Indeed "intentional culture" is one of the first tools for creating inclusion in the organization. Messages coming from the most senior management concerning the intended culture of the organization essentially straighten a line among the employees in the organization as far as what is expected of them during their employment in the company.


Sorry, but is that really enough? Who really reads the company policy or the tens or even hundreds of emails that come from management? Right, right! We have to remember that the employees come to the workplace to perform their tasks and in most cases, they will waste on long emails or a never-ending policy document. Recorded training can also be a nuisance to employees and in many cases, they will run through them but will declare that they have gone through everything. This does not mean that we should give up the conventional methods, absolutely not. The policy document, which is usually inspired by the most senior management, should serve us throughout. At the same time, we definitely need to be more creative in the ways of conveying the message and assimilating it.


So how else can the message be conveyed and promote an inclusive culture? Coaching! Yes, yes - coaching is a recommended method for promoting diversity and inclusion in the organization. We have developed a special coaching model that helps organizations strengthen their employees' sense of belonging to the organization through an inclusive culture. Coaching is a perfect tool to accomplish the task because one of the pillars of coaching is - openness and acceptance. The coaching helps the trainees to be open to their teammates and to know how to conduct themselves despite many opinions and disputes while imparting skills of self-acceptance, acceptance of others, acceptance of changes, and more. In an inclusive culture, we first need the employees to feel comfortable "in their own skin" and then be free to accept others, who might be different from them.


Very nice. So everyone accepts everyone, but how does this manifest itself on a day-to-day basis? An organization in which there is an inclusive culture is characterized by a sense of freedom of expression and creativity among the employees. Think about it - where do you have more fun working? In a place that accepts you exactly as you are and allows you to express your thoughts without fear or in a place that doesn't care who you are, or what you are, and that the main concern is that you come and do the work. Freedom and creativity promote sharing new ideas without any fear and thus open many opportunities for business breakthroughs that give a clear competitive advantage.

Well, I hope the issue of inclusive culture becomes clearer. Be that as it may, if the management of your organization has decided to promote an inclusive culture, a warm recommendation is to take professional guidance and give the leaders a place where they can acquire new skills and no less importantly - share the challenges and dilemmas that follow with this subject. Good luck!

Coach Perry

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