Inclusion-based workplaces have advantages. Including improved employee emotional well-being and retention. So, how can you practice “conscious inclusion” at work?
One way is conscious inclusion training to help prevent bias and conflicts that arise when you least expect them.
What is Conscious Inclusion?
Before we dive into inclusion training and examples, let’s define “conscious inclusion.”
Conscious Inclusion Meaning:
“Conscious inclusion” is an organizational strategy where people intentionally focus their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors toward creating value by leveraging differences.
Doing this helps teams produce quality results by understanding their biases and their impact on others. Conscious inclusion goes beyond being aware of unconscious biases and involves a practical action plan.
Conscious Inclusion Training
Conscious inclusion training usually provides the best results with a top-down approach.
So, it’s good practice to have top decision-makers (i.e., C-suites) on board with DEI initiatives instead of just assigning them to your HR team. As a company leader, it’s essential to inspire conscious inclusion through leading by example.
Picture it as a waterfall effect that begins at the top and flows to entry-level hires.
The best way to start your journey is by identifying current biases. Specialized behavior assessments like Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) can help reveal exclusionary tendencies in thought processes across your organization.
Challenge Existing Thoughts and Practices
Have you rejected applicants without considering their strengths, skills, and experience? If so, it might be time to review the snap judgments in your hiring and recruitment processes. Instead, list reasons why an applicant could prove a good fit for the job.
Also, it helps to hire genuine HR managers who see value in people. Managers who show appreciation for co-workers and are good listeners to help foster conscious inclusion from the start.
Make Conscious Inclusion Measurable
While conscious inclusion involves a complex mix of emotions, workplace relationships, and attitudes that are difficult to measure, it’s important to define them.
Measurable values allow you to monitor your organization’s inclusion standards and offer extra support when necessary. You can assess your company’s conscious inclusion levels by observing diversity values.
The 7 dimensions of inclusion are an excellent indicator of workplace diversity values. According to the Gartner Inclusion Index, they include:
- Fair Treatment – Team members who support the organization in meeting its goals receive fair rewards and recognition.
- Integrating Differences – Team members respect and value each other’s opinions.
- Decision Making – Team members consider the ideas and suggestions offered by others.
- Psychological Safety – The safety of expressing perspectives without fear of punishment or humiliation.
- Trust – Open and honest communication throughout the company.
- Belonging – General care and concern shared among members of the company.
- Diversity – Team members and managers come from varied backgrounds.
Employee feedback that agrees with most or all of the 7 points indicates high inclusivity levels. So, your survey results will help provide a baseline measurement of workplace perceptions and their underlying conscious inclusion.
Conscious Inclusion Examples and Practices
There are many strategic ways to integrate conscious inclusion into your organizational structure through consistent practice. The process often requires a combination of self-awareness and empathetic communication.
Stay Perceptive to Differing Views
While it’s unavoidable that team members have contrasting perspectives, there should be a safe environment that inspires teamwork toward fulfilling shared goals. Conscious inclusion at the workplace empowers employees of all backgrounds to share their suggestions, opinions, and concerns without self-doubt.
Openly Address Inequalities
One of the most effective ways to promote conscious inclusion at work is by openly discussing inequalities, unfairness, and biases. Provide a one-to-one session or discuss the subject in a group meeting, depending on your team’s preference. Transparent communication contributes to a positive work culture where people can share diverse experiences and overcome negative beliefs together.
Involve Everyone in Event Planning
It’s beneficial to involve everyone in event planning. These include team-building activities, meetings, and multicultural celebrations (e.g., festive celebrations). Skip the Pareto Principle, where 80% of the planning and work gets done by 20% of the team. Instead, give each member a chance to share their thoughts and suggestions.
Holiday workplace festivities offer the perfect opportunity to engage in conscious inclusion decision-making, tapping on the generally positive atmosphere. Consider reaching out to team members from underrepresented groups and actively seek ideas that you can add to an inclusive celebration.
Keep a Conscious Inclusion Journal
Journaling is a great way to track your journey toward conscious inclusion. Regular reflections at the end of each workday help give a clear perspective of your thoughts, feelings, and interactions.
Encouraging journaling practices throughout your company helps team members develop positive habits. And it challenges their personal unconscious biases to reduce conflicts and disharmony.
Journaling also nurtures the empathy and understanding required for initiating sensitive conversations. Research shows, more than a 1/3 of LGBT employees (35%) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.
Journaling practices can help promote psychological safety and acceptance in these scenarios.
Introduce Conscious Inclusion at Work
In many cases, it seems harmless to keep your thoughts to yourself. Unfortunately, these internalized perspectives continue to affect company decisions and interpersonal interactions. So, a mistimed smile during a water cooler conversation or a poorly worded email could quickly turn workplace relationships sour.
Ultimately, conscious inclusion helps bring your innermost thoughts out in the open so you can address those biases and take assumptions out of the equation for good.
Why I Wrote This:
Ongig’s mission is to eliminate boring and biased JDs to help you attract (and hire) the most qualified talent. Our team identifies conscious inclusion at the heart of the most effective DEI practices. And, we believe combining our software with an increased awareness of conscious inclusion can help you build a happier, more inclusive, and highly motivated workforce.
- Antrim Consulting – 22 Benefits of DEI in the Workplace
- Project Implicit – Implicit Association Test (IAT)
- Indeed, Indeed Editorial Team – Valuing Employees: 15 Ways To Make Them Feel Valued
- Lauren Romansky, Mia Garrod, Katie Brown, and Kartik Deo, Harvard Business Review – How to Measure Inclusion in the Workplace
- Sarah Laoyan, Asana – Understanding the Pareto Principle (The 80/20 rule)
- Luke Smith, Training Journal – Reducing unconscious bias at work
- Stonewall – LGBT in Britain – Work Report