Inclusion is and always has been at the heart of our work with groups and teams. A team cannot realise its potential unless it works with the diversity within and includes everyone's varying perspectives.
Catalysed by the death of George Floyd and others, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of organisations paying attention to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). It’s good news that this essential work for social justice is now on the radar in the corporate world, in a way it wasn't before. Some might say, “At last!”
There’s a wide range of work being done in the name of DEI but we see something we think might be being missed.
Our views stem from the attention we pay to process in our work with groups, teams and communities. At the core of our work is our ability to see the patterns of behaviour in groups and work with them to support collective awareness raising, development and performance.
It never ceases to amaze us how, when we work experientially with clients in our development programmes, we start by asking them to observe group process. Our mantra in the early stages is "observe, observe, observe" because we firmly believe you cannot impact or adjust something you are unaware of 😊
What we've experienced is that in the busy, task-orientated world we're in, most people in organisations are blind to process. When we ask them what they notice, they point to task or topic i.e. the subject matter that the group was talking about, and how the conversation was held seems to go virtually unseen.
The inclusion issue this raises is that inclusivity (or exclusivity) is actually an ongoing human dynamic. Yes, occasionally there's one big event in someone’s working life that makes them feel excluded, but most exclusion is subtle, it happens in everyday micro-behaviours - what we call group process or human dynamics.
If we want to enable ourselves to be inclusive, learn to work with our biases, and begin to dismantle our prejudices - instead of remain oblivious to them - we need to develop awareness of group process, human dynamics, and the behavioural patterns in groups.
Much inclusion work seems to involve educating people by sharing knowledge and we agree this can be profound. Hearing stories from people with diverse backgrounds, about how they experience the world, can be eye-opening and inspiring and has the power to shift our attitudes. BUT... if we want to shift behaviours we have to go beyond cognitive awareness and start to look at how our actual behaviours in groups show up and inhibit our ability to be truly inclusive. And then work on changing those.
Hence we say, "inclusion is a human dynamic, not a policy!"
How aware are you of the patterns of behaviour going on around you, in your workplace?
How able do you feel to interrupt these constructively and intentionally?
We'd love to hear your take on this...