inclusion is a choice that's good for business

Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice

Diversity is a fact of life. People look, think, feel, and act differently. They always have.

But is diversity an advantage? That depends on whether you can unleash its potential through a process of rich collaboration. We call that process inclusion, and inclusion is very much a choice.

The central criticism leveled against D&I training over the last three decades is that we have been telling people to believe until they behave. In other words, learn to be aware of, understand, acknowledge, and appreciate diversity, and we often ask people to do this in a climate of compliance and guilt and then expect them to go out and be inclusive.

People seldom cross a threshold of conviction based on awareness and appreciation of diversity alone. Chances are they don't know how to practice inclusion. They still lack the skills.

Inclusion is ultimately learned through experience. As you practice inclusion, you see the impact of that behavior. This is what we call the behavioral approach—behave until you believe—and it’s the crucial breakthrough that organizations need in the 21st century.

Emotional Intelligence, Psychological Safety, and Inclusion

Based on our research of team performance, we have discovered that emotional intelligence is the primary enabling skill for creating an inclusive environment. It leads to psychological safety, which is the vital cultural requirement that allows people to feel valued, respected, and listened to. Psychological safety is the belief that it’s safe to discuss ideas, experiment, take risks, give feedback, and learn from mistakes.

The 5 Primary Inclusion Skills

Based on our accumulated client experience, we have identified five key dimensions of emotional intelligence that drive inclusion most powerfully:

  1. Optimism
  2.  Openness
  3. Stress Tolerance
  4. Empathy
  5. Relationship Management

When employees learn and apply these five skills, watch out. The tone and tenor of the organization begin to change immediately. There's implicit permission to contribute, participate, and even challenge. Because inclusion is a true principle, it carries within itself its own confirming evidence. When people begin to practice these five inclusion skills, the inevitable result is the formation of an inclusive culture and the creation of both career and business impact.

This is the flash point: When you witness what inclusion looks like and the fruit it produces, you become convinced that it is both a moral imperative and a competitive advantage. That's a blessed day.


Contact Advantage to find out more about the BlueEQ emotional intelligence self-assessment and workshop and its Diversity & Inclusion Track, or click the button below to request a free code to experience the power of BlueEQ and evaluate its potential for your organization:

Timothy R. Clark

Co-founder at BlueEQ
Timothy R. Clark, an Advantage thought leader partner,  is founder and managing partner at LeaderFactor, as well as co-founder and co-creator of BlueEQ™, the emotional intelligence self-assessment.

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