We make use of a novel theory on inclusion that two of our experts have developed. In short, instead of conceiving inclusion and exclusion as polar opposites, we conceptualize inclusion and exclusion as different sides of the same coin. And this makes much of a difference.
Inclusion and exclusion are generally considered as polar opposites. As a consequence, all inclusion is good and legitimate, whereas all exclusion is bad and illegitimate.
This can create a very forced climate where employees feel like they have to walk on eggshells, afraid to make a mistake and inadvertently excluding someone. Which is bound to happen anyway.
In contrast, in conceiving inclusion and exclusion as different sides of the same coin, employees do not need to be afraid of excluding someone. Instead, they understand that exclusion is part of the game, but that they have to consider the legitimacy of their acts. Because exclusion can be legitimate, just as inclusion can be illegitimate.
This understanding of inclusion:
- Provides a more psychologically safe climate
- Gives employees the autonomy to consider when they can include or exclude someone
- Puts the responsibility of displaying including behavior in the hands of all employees