Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An “Inclusiversity” Mind

‘Inclusiversity is the word with the combination of Inclusive and Diversity.

Historically, diversity was a popular buzzword starting in the early 1980s, since then, Fortune 500 corporations, both public and private sectors, large and small organizations have all been doing “diversity work.” Today, employers are moving towards a new trademarked word and initiative - ‘Inclusiversity - This word is the combination of Inclusive and Diversity. thereby combining the inclusion of differences. By definition, it takes into account the state or fact of being complete with all the differences, unlikeness, and divisions. The word is most noteworthy first and foremost as it is intended to include others, include different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds. The prefix ‘div’ seems to have a negative connotation associated with the words such as division, divide, divergent, and  prefix ‘in’ has the positive connotation associated with the words such as information, intention, or intelligence. The hybrid word inclusivesity will imply the right balance of difference and commonality.

Inclusiversity mind focuses on commonalities as a human being, not difference. By focusing only on what makes people different, you actually gear their mind to think about differences first. This defeats the point of diversity. By not focusing so much on the diversities, but on the commonalities that we all have as human beings is an excellent way to create understanding, cohesion and collaboration. A great way to do this is to do an appreciative inquiry intervention whereby the first step is to ask people to interview each other 1:1 on what their best moments in life were, their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. People very quickly realize that there are far fewer differences between them than points they have in common, commonalities that can create the base for collaboration and success. It is important to have a handle on the unconscious bias that we all have, and how that can play out, unintentionally, in the work place, that even before tackling diversity goals and objectives. You need to focus on the commonalities that exist between people. Also, look at diversity from a business context - how to manage diverse work teams, how to use it as a competitive advantage.

An inclusiversity mind tries to focus on behavioral and skill diversity and ensure there are cogitative difference and talent diversity on the team. By openly seeking to develop that it balances without causing a huge issue over other kinds of diversity. If you categorize people on any surface criteria - then you are putting them in silos, or type-casting, and setting up boundaries and hurdles... If you start from a point of, "We are all different - with different gifts and skills" then the opportunities open up - not close down. In conventional mind, people think diversity is only about race or gender. Diversity is actually a holistic approach to creating a work environment where all employees can reach their full potential, it's something an organization must work on continuously. Ask people what initiatives they will take to handle diversity in the workplace. Also, deal with stereotypes by showing people that even two people within the same family can be different, hence it is wrong to stereotype against a whole population of a particular group.

Inclusiversity thinking means to start thinking in terms of empathy and understanding. Acceptance is not the purpose or goal of Inclusiversity. Rather, valuing Inclusiversity means acknowledging that other people, other races, other voices, and other cultures have as much integrity and as much claim on the world as you do. It is the recognition that there are other ways of seeing the world, solving problems, and working together. Each individual is different in one way or another. Look at the Iceberg Model - The behavior (small part visible) is a result of Values, Attitudes and Beliefs (deeper part - invisible) of each individual. So it will be useful to focus on some key areas like being empathetic in the communication process, among team members, how to handling conflicts, making constructive criticism etc.

The inclusiversity mind creates synergy for higher achievement. It is important to remember that the goal any inclusiversity initiative is not to change people's perceptions, or eliminate whatever prejudices or belief systems they hold overnight, but rather to focus pragmatically on what is expected in the workplace, and what will provide a good and productive working environment for every employee. Can a group be formed that has synergy (the whole greater than the sum of parts) by focusing on and promoting the activity which makes each one different? Or, would they most likely be able to unify by focusing on common beliefs, which brings them together?  We need to practice inclusion, appreciate the difference and, therefore, move forward. We all have different skills and talents and we should all come together and appreciate each other.

The inclusiversity becomes a collective mindset in the organization when inclusiversity is truly woven through the culture of the organization instead of a program or initiative. The goal is to build a culture  from top-down, where diversity of the thought and inclusion of mind are believed by "the people" as both necessary and vital to individual and collective success. If this is truly done, the results should follow--but it takes the time to help employees discover “authentic self” and have leaders to do self-reflection. The beliefs and the work have to be sustainable--so the key is to embed the concepts and practical application, etc. into everything within the organization ranging from all people practices to engaging with the customers community, partners, etc.

A few visionary organizations have moved beyond the traditional approaches that focus on awareness, appreciation, inclusion, etc. and are more focused on developing competencies for effectively working with and leveraging a diverse workforce. It is quite nice to see divergences of views come together for a common good. Inclusiversity is viewed as an asset that could be capitalized on to bring about many forms of corporate and societal good. By using the word 'Inclusiversity' along with Collin's motivation to seek out greatness and Covey's habit of seeking a third alternative - we can appreciate positive momentum in both our workplace and personal life. The quest for improvement and growth in workplaces, communities and society are manifested by involving the differences of others through ‘INCLUSIVERSITY.’

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