In the ever-evolving landscape of our society, National Inclusion Week stands as a beacon of hope and progress. We will delve into the significance of National Inclusion Week in 2023, exploring its theme and the pressing need for inclusion in our workplaces. We'll explore age discrimination, neurodiversity, and racial equality in the UK. Moreover, we'll spotlight the roles organisations, CEOs, managers, HR professionals, and all of us play in fostering inclusivity. Finally, we'll wrap up with the top three actionable steps you can personally take this National Inclusion Week.
What is National Inclusion Week and the 2023 Theme?
National Inclusion Week is an annual event led by Inclusive Employers, aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion in workplaces. In 2023, the theme is “Take Action Make Impact”. This theme underscores the urgency of creating inclusive environments where everyone, regardless of their background or characteristics, feels valued and empowered.
Race equity: An Ongoing Battle
In the pursuit of inclusivity, efforts to improve racial equity should be prioritised and sustained. Despite ongoing efforts, racial disparities persist in workplaces across the UK. Racially minoritised groups often face hurdles in recruitment, career progression, and fair representation. National Inclusion Week serves as a reminder of the need to confront and eradicate racial inequalities, fostering workplaces where diversity is genuinely valued.
Simply stated, neurodiversity refers to the different ways a person’s brain processes information. The term was coined in the late 1990’s by Australian sociologist Judy Singer and is useful to describe people with varying characteristics and behaviours of neurodevelopmental conditions alongside the “neurotypical” majority. Common types of neurodiversity include Autism, or Autism Spectrum Conditions such as ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Other examples of how our brains process information include Cognitive functioning difficulties or executive dysfunction, Dysgraphia, Misophonia, Slow processing speed, Stammering and Tourette’s syndrome.
Many organisations are realizing the untapped potential of neurodivergent employees, but there is still much work to be done. Encouragingly, the UK is making strides in this area, with more companies actively seeking to create an inclusive environment for neurodiverse individuals.
Age Discrimination: A Lingering Problem
Age discrimination is another area that demands our attention. While ageism may not always be overt, it often lurks beneath the surface, impacting hiring decisions, promotions, and overall workplace dynamics. Statistics reveal that a significant number of older employees feel marginalized or undervalued, emphasizing the importance of fostering an inclusive workplace culture for employees of all ages.
What Are Organisations Doing?
Many organisations have recognized the imperative of fostering inclusivity. They are implementing a range of initiatives, from diversity training programs to creating staff network groups for underrepresented communities. In 2023, more companies are expected to take tangible steps toward achieving their diversity and inclusion goals. The business case for diversity is strong, with diverse teams proving to be more innovative and successful.
Who Should Be Leading This Work?
The responsibility of championing inclusivity doesn't rest on the shoulders of a single group. It's a collective effort. CEOs, as figureheads of their organisations, play a pivotal role in setting the tone for inclusivity. Managers are crucial in implementing inclusive policies and ensuring they are upheld in day-to-day operations. HR professionals are instrumental in shaping recruitment and retention practices. But it's not just up to them. All of us, as individuals, have a role to play. We can challenge biases, support our colleagues, and actively promote diversity and inclusion.
Top 3 Things You Can Personally Do This National Inclusion Week
Educate Yourself and Others
Education is the foundation of change. Take the time not only to educate yourself but also to spread awareness and educate others about the importance of inclusion.
Here's how you can do it:
Read Widely: Dive into books, articles, and resources that explore various aspects of diversity and inclusion. Seek out materials that shed light on different perspectives, experiences, and challenges faced by underrepresented groups.
Attend Workshops and Training: Many organisations offer diversity and inclusion training programs. If your workplace provides such opportunities, participate in them eagerly. These workshops can provide valuable insights and practical tools for fostering inclusivity.
Engage in Conversations: Initiate conversations about diversity and inclusion with your colleagues, friends, and family. Encourage open dialogue where people can share their experiences and learn from each other.
Share What You Learn: Don't keep your newfound knowledge to yourself. Share articles, books, and insights with your network. By spreading awareness, you contribute to a more informed and empathetic society.
Speak Up Against Discrimination
Inaction in the face of discrimination or bias is as detrimental as being complicit. Challenge these behaviors and promote a culture of respect and inclusivity:
Address Microaggressions: Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional expressions of bias. When you witness or experience them, speak up respectfully. Explain why they are discriminatory and advocate for respectful communication.
Support Inclusive Language: Encourage the use of inclusive language that respects all genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Be mindful of the words you use and politely correct others when necessary.
Report Discrimination: If you encounter discrimination in your workplace, use established channels to report it. Your HR department should have mechanisms in place to address such issues confidentially.
Be an Ally: Show your support for colleagues from underrepresented groups. Offer a listening ear, provide mentorship, and actively advocate for their voices to be heard and their contributions recognized.
Be an Inclusive Leader and Role Model
Leadership isn't confined to those with titles; anyone can be a leader in promoting inclusivity.
Here's how you can lead by example:
Promote Inclusive Practices: Whether you're in a leadership position or not, you can advocate for inclusive policies and practices within your organisation. Encourage diverse hiring, fair promotions, and unbiased decision-making.
Sponsor: Act as a sponsor for individuals from underrepresented groups. Offer opportunities for career growth. Be proactive in helping them navigate potential obstacles.
Create Safe Spaces: Foster an environment where people feel safe to voice their concerns or experiences related to discrimination or exclusion. Encourage feedback and be receptive to it.
Celebrate Diversity: Embrace cultural celebrations and awareness days, such as National Inclusion Week, within your workplace. Organize events, discussions, or presentations that highlight different cultures and perspectives.
Lead by Example: Be a model of inclusive behavior. Treat all individuals with respect and dignity, regardless of their background. Show that inclusivity is not just a buzzword but a core value in your life and work.
By addressing inequalities we can collectively empower the future of our workplaces, making them more diverse, equitable, and inclusive for all. Remember, the power to effect change is not just in the hands of organisations or leaders; it's in each one of us. Let's make this National Inclusion Week count by taking meaningful steps toward a more inclusive future.
We hope you found this insightful. To find out more about this topic, why not register for our next Inclusion Exchange Video Podcast Episode? On the 28th September, we’ll be marking National Inclusion Week 2023 by discussing the intrinsic link between workplace wellbeing and improving inclusion, diversity, equity and equality. Don't worry if you can't join us live, by registering, you will get access to the recording afterwards.