Absolute Inclusivity - begins within you not a corporate policy

by Jeanette Peterson

Absolute Inclusivity - begins within you not a corporate policy

I have read a lot about how important it is to include others in the workplace, some of whom we have an unfortunate habit of calling people with disabilities.

We've learned this unfortunate phase in humanity through social and cultural conditioning. Whilst casting these shadows on others, it is doing us all a disservice on a grand scale that many are simply unaware of.

Why? You might ask. Simply put, it is a type of negative bias that we seem to have normalised on mass throughout society. Somehow, in what we think is our infinite wisdom, we have decided that difference is a disability. In our society, we have unwittingly now created a standard for what we call abled and disabled.

What if I put to you a concept of absolute inclusivity?

A concept that says there is no abled and no disabled, just diversity. It is simply a lens we have been pre-conditioned to look through, and those conditions can be changed at any time.

In reality, we are simply more alike than we are different. When you focus on differences, that is what you see. Yet, when you start to focus on what makes us alike, you might begin to see the world through a beautiful new lens, which looks at the people around us in a whole new way.

How did I come to this realisation? You might be wondering.

About 10 years ago, I accepted a short-term contract position working in what was then called the disability services sector. I had an experience that changed my life forever, and I feel incredibly blessed for the realisations I gained from this experience.

In this contract role, I was working with around 200 amazing people who others considered to be disabled. These amazing people reminded me, time and time again what it is to live with present-moment awareness and find the joy in the small moments.

I had just relocated to a new city looking for new adventures and challenges in life. So I decided to work in the not-for-profit sector. For some time, I had been yearning to be of service to others in a greater way than I had before.

On day one of my new job, I went home feeling completely overwhelmed, but not in a bad way. My senses were heightened, I was emotional, and I didn't think it was possible to have so many thoughts and feelings intertwined all at once. By the end of the first week, I found myself being hugged with random and joyous abandon by those whom I was engaged to work with. I suddenly realised that my perspective on life had, as if by chance, completely changed. I had so succinctly begun to experience life through the lens of those whom we have been labelling in society as people with disabilities.

Something remarkable happened in the workplace for me. I began to experience connections with these people more deeply and humanly, which didn't have the superficial covering I had experienced in previous workplaces. To experience such a shift within the core of me was quite something. At the time, I recall attempting to explain it to a dear friend, yet being so moved that I was lost for words.

I began to undercover a value I had been yearning for in my work, that I almost hadn't realised was missing in the world when we exclude people from our lives who are simply different to us.

Through this experience, I became acutely aware of just how complicit we had all become in welcoming such a bland and benign standard of normal into society. We had all somehow, unknowingly been tricked into believing that we should all be the same, learned through the generational normalisation of repeated social and cultural conditioning. Of which is now deeply entrenched in our workplaces.

Today, I see it more clearly as I have continued to work in transformation strategy & change management. The proportion and type of exclusion varies, however, we are still here in the same space of developing corporate strategies for more inclusion in our workplaces. We don't seem to have made up any ground either.

Why are we still grinding to the stone of futilely trying to build inclusion in our workplaces? When exclusions exist within our conditioning, we, in turn, simply bring them to work. Has no one else noticed this problematic way of attempting to solve inclusion?

Apply this to all forms of inclusion whether they be socio-economic, racial, religious, sexual or political, and we are all like ticking time bombs waiting to go off at work.

So, maybe it is well and truly time to reevaluate inclusivity, not from the lens of corporate policy, but instead through our hearts as individuals.

If inclusivity is to be embraced by all of society, it must first be embraced within us all, as individuals. This is where societal change begins. When we accept the need to change as individuals, our society changes.

Why?

Simply because the things we call social norms are formed by us as individuals, not lip service corporate policies of inclusivity.

Today, open your heart to welcome inclusion back into your life. Become aware of your unconscious biases around inclusivity in your life, and work to remove them from within yourself.

I can tell you from experience, that uncovering your own unconscious biases will be a difficult realisation to confront. Yet, the success of future generations is reliant on us doing that very work today. To recognise our flaws and build personal character, that not only sees diversity but embraces the delight of what true diversity brings into all our lives, was and continues to be one of the most worthwhile experiences I have had in my life to date.

If we all begin to work through this individually, together we will change the world, where no corporate policy ever has or ever will.

It's up to us!

What will you do next?