Page Updated on March 14, 2023
Inclusion is a term commonly used in reference to the workplace and it is when everyone:
- Feels they have a voice
- Is fully themselves as they work together
- Has influence over decision-making processes
- Has access to information and resources
- Faces no obstacles to fully participating and contributing
Classroom Training Activity
If you are a freelance or corporate trainer offering ‘Inclusion Leadership training’ or ‘Inclusion Management training’ then you might want to use this free-to-use training activity we have created, below:
Training Activity Timeframe
10 minutes is the perfect amount of time for this activity.
Starting the Inclusion Activity
At first, only show the title of the slide so that they only see the text saying “What is Inclusion?”
Next, ask participants to pair up (if there is an odd number of participants you can have one group of three).
Then give participants 5 minutes to discuss with each other what they think inclusion in the workplace is, and to write a list of things that they think it entails.
After the 5 minutes are up, hold a discussion with the whole group so participants can share their ideas and allocate about 5 minutes for this.
After or during the whole class discussion, then show the content of the slide and explain.
See below the explanation for the slide.
Slide Explanation for the Class Discussion
Inclusion in the workplace is achieved when everyone (regardless of their diverse identity, job position or level of seniority)
1. Feels they have a voice
This happens when people feel safe to speak up (this is referred to as psychological safety at work) and they feel respected and listened to when they decide to share their opinions.
For example, there may be situations when the leader is intimidating, and staff does not feel safe speaking up. Or there may be issues to do with bullying at work.
Sometimes people from certain groups may be ignored when they try to express an idea during meetings (for instance, women in certain male-dominated sectors).
2. Is fully themselves as they work together
This happens when somebody does not feel the need to hide their real identity.
Hiding your identity is referred to as ‘covering’.
You might think it is not a problem. After all, we all wear different ‘hats’ in our different roles in life.
For example, we behave differently at home with our family as we behave in the workplace.
However, covering goes deeper than this. It is not just a matter of behaving differently according to how appropriate it is in each situation, but it means toning down your identity because you are afraid of being shunned, abused, or penalized in some way.
3. Has influence over decision-making processes
This means that the leader proactively involves everyone in the team and asks for their opinions, making them feel valued.
Of course, if the leader then does not take an idea on board, it is fine as long as they explain clearly why and make it clear that they are grateful for any contribution.
4. Has access to information and resources
There may be many reasons why not everybody at work has access to the same information and resources.
In some cases, there is a good reason for it. For example, for security reasons, only some people can have access to certain passwords and files, etc.
In other cases, it may be due to a lack of inclusion. For example, it may be down to favoritism, with leaders tending to coach or provide resources for advancement only to those from certain backgrounds.
It can also be down, for example, to physical abilities.
This is why it is important to provide technologies that people with visual or hearing limitations can use. Or it is important to make premises physically accessible to all, regardless of their ability to walk without being aided.
5. Faces no obstacles to fully participating and contributing
This is related to helping people contribute their ideas and actions. For example, as we mentioned earlier, women in some companies may feel that they are not being listened to.
Or it may be down to people’s different communication styles, with certain workplaces favoring extroverts over introverts.
It could be to do with refusing to adapt the times of meetings to accommodate those who work flexibly. There may be different reasons why people from different categories feel that they are not able to fully contribute.
If You Are Teaching This Activity Online
Divide the participants into pairs by using breakout rooms.
Participants can write down their ideas by using an online whiteboard, a chat, or an online tool, such as Lino or Padlet.
Once the group activity is over, bring the participants back to the main room for the whole class discussion.
Dr Paul Symonds
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