Inclusion Theory

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

Experiential Learning

In our trainings, we use experiential learning where possible. Experiential learning is an approach to learning in which participants first are given an experience, then reflect on that experience, and only after that connect it to the learning topic. There are two reasons why we are so adament in using experiential learning.

First, meta-analytical evidence shows that experiential learning is superior/more sustainable to other ways of learning. It leads to more learning retention and is therefore a highly effective learning method.

Second, inclusion is a topic that does not just affect the mind, but also the heart. It is about people’s lives and their personal experiences, which can include a long and painful history. As such, employees’ starting points in any discussion on inclusion tend to be highly divergent. Via experiential learning, we create a level playing field that allow all employees, regardless of their backgrounds and prior experiences, to enter the discussion and understand what is really at stake.

Scan Diversity & Inclusion

There are various scans that assess an organization’s performance in the area of Diversity and Inclusion. What should you pay attention to when you decide which scan to use?

Two elements are of main importance.

First, as far as possible, it should use scientifically validated scales. If the measure isn’t accurate, you may receive findings that are interesting, but offer very little value, because it is unclear what you have measured. Especially in the area of inclusion, wording is very important, and using a slightly ambiguous term can easily yield invalid findings.

Second, it is important that not just the averages are reported, but that close attention is given to outliers. Usually, such outliers would be looked at with suspicion, and potentially even discarded. However, for inclusion, they may provide your single most important pieces of data. If, for example, you measure the inclusive climate in the organization, and the majority of employees are men who give very high ratings, then the average may look very good. But if the few women who work in your company give a much lower rating, then all alarm bells should go off.

As the old saying goes: To measure is to know. But that is only true if the measure is accurate, and one knows how to interpret the measure.