Observing inclusivity

How does inclusivity feel? How does it make you feel?

Got an opportunity to observe and feel inclusivity across a few non-profit-organizations. Realized how small and simple behaviors can trigger a wide range of perspectives.

1. Leadership makes a difference

If the leader is a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) kind of person, who likes to get their hands dirty and learn / tinker with every aspect of the group (or function / team), then the people who are part of it find it hard to figure out how & where to contribute. While it is good for the leader (who would potentially end up with a lot of skills), garnering the support of people around them would be hard.

Met a woman leader today who garnered a room full of parents to support a specific activity, typically a session where no more than ten parents show up for all events.

2. Sharing clarity

When the leader / team shares clarity around the objective or goal that is being pursued, it helps everyone break it out into tasks in their minds and figure out a way to contribute. Everyone brings their own skillset to the table, and somehow as a group, it helps people come together with pride to showcase their skills and put it to use. There will be a lot of learning in the process, but it will not be limited to one person, everyone will have a fair chance to make their mistakes, learn and evolve.

In one of the non-profits, the group leader does not share any information with the rest of the participants and holds all information to herself. There is no teamwork. When she is not around, nothing moves forward. While it assures her of her role/position, she does not get any support when she needs at crucial times.

3. Jobs are opened up online

If you look at any school PTO organization, they use a Signup genius. All possible roles (bring food, snacks, clean up, printing, and all potential tasks) are listed there. Anyone and everyone has an equal opportunity to sign up for any activity, without being judgmental. Irrespective of race, gender, origin, disabilities, age everyone gets to sign up for what they choose to do. No roles / jobs are kept aside for “certain set of people”.

Think about it, no discrimination as to who can bring cookies, or who can clean up, or who can help with the props. How wonderful would it be if this were followed in corporate jobs as well.

4. Seeking help

Sometimes the group / team leader finds it difficult to ask for help. Let us figure it out ourselves (instead of seeking help from outside experts). That leads to lesser number of people knowing that there is a problem and even though they have the skills, they would not feel comfortable reaching out to help, for fear of being snubbed.

While it does not apply only to leaders, anyone who has or takes up any role, has the ability to reach out to seek help. It does help build a good work environment amongst the teams.

5. Being approachable

Send out the vibes that you are approachable. You would be willing to help anyone who needs help of any kind and would be available for an offline conversation. Sharing your contact number / email for questions, or staying back after a group meeting to chat and discuss one-on-one helps.

When someone does that, you feel like talking to them, engaging with them, supporting them! When someone does not seem approachable, or passes a satirical comment, you stop yourself from being hurt and refrain from communicating.

6. Smile makes a difference

A warm smile goes a long way in people feeling comfortable & inclusive in your presence. While it may be difficult to see with masks, the cheerfulness in your voice will be felt by those interacting with you. They would feel inclusive and would like to continue the conversations.

7. Appreciate people

Take a moment to appreciate the effort put in by others. No effort is big or small, and everyone’s effort in the right direction would help the team move forward & accomplish its goals. Everyone likes to be appreciated. It motivates us to do better, do more. If someone needs help, recognize it and help them.

Observed the spike in productivity in a community kitchen when staff started appreciating the pace at which the work was getting completed. The team started seeing double the number of volunteers over a few weeks. Every bit counts. Everyone’s efforts counts!

Next time you get to meet someone running a club or school PTO, observe the way the groups feel inclusive. Observe the leaders or key role holders, you will notice the above behaviors (or lack thereof). Now, compare that to our workplace… what does it take to be inclusive?

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