Are we causing exclusion through our efforts for inclusion?

This is the question that has me thinking this week, which was inspired by my attendance at the Citywork’s Forum event, presented by Kirsty Bashforth.

Are we causing exclusion through our efforts for inclusion?

One of Kirsty’s research findings was that diversity is now becoming what she insightfully called ‘a fatigued label’.  She advised us to think of ways in which we can remove this label and instead focus on what we can do to take specific actions within our businesses (which are still driving for D&I but with a more direct focus).  We support the career development of parents in the workplace and this week we ran a programme for a group of internal parent mentors.  Encouraging opportunities for individual networking connections with mentors, rather than relying on a more formal and cross-organisation ‘women’s network’ still enables inclusion (men and women, cross-business-focus, support to new parents in the workplace) but without the label.

Business-led or sponsored initiatives do often attract more energy and attendance than ones that have the HR or D&I label.  One recent example that we have come across is in a project with an organisation to build a more flexible/family-friendly culture within the line management population.  Packaged as a ‘new leadership skill’ rather than as a way to ensure ‘diversity and inclusion’ is infinitely more compelling for line managers to attend!

By focusing on the minority groups, are we excluding the ‘majorities’?  We are celebrating International Men’s Day in November this year, in the same way as we will be celebrating International Women’s Day in March.  By holding specific workshops and events for dads in the workplace, we feel that we are recognising that dads also have their own separate (and sometimes similar) challenges to contend with.  We also feel that by supporting dads to get a better work/family balance will have an impact on women’s work/life balance and career progression.

Perhaps we should all follow the approach of Deloitte – who have merged all of their minority network groups under just one umbrella – called ‘inclusion and respect’ – respecting people for the value they bring.

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