While leading the Immigration Intelligence People Board at the Home Office, I had an additional interest in following and promoting across our teams the various blogs, articles and events relating to engagement, diversity and culture. I always found it inspiring to hear stories about individuals’ first-hand experience and how they would leave you with that spark of pride in our colleagues and their courage to speak out .
Reading Jason Ghaboos’s recent post on 'Working together for the benefit of all', I was prompted to share my experiences and present a challenge to us all.
I like to think that my team and I are totally inclusive, but experience has taught me that perceptions and reality can often be different. So, seeing how openly inclusion and diversity is talked about across the Home Office is great to see and a great step forward in our becoming truly inclusive.
I lead a relatively small team, so the percentages around any groupings can become a little nugatory. However, I feel that not getting hung up on the numbers has allowed me to think more widely about what inclusion means to us as a team.
Sense of fairness
When talking to my team, inclusion means being treated fairly and with respect and feeling that our individual unique value is recognised and appreciated by everyone. Getting this right promotes a real sense of belonging and commitment to the team and our objectives.
Our sense of fairness is deep-rooted in our psychology, so I encourage everyone to listen for the rumblings that might indicate some form of unfairness at work. This is really important, enables early intervention and helps me to understand the perceptions that may be affecting how a person is feeling.
Seeing each of my colleagues as an integral and valued part of our team is important to me. I strive to recognise that each person is unique and promote an environment where everyone can speak up and influence decision-making. This has contributed to a shared culture that thrives on collaboration, sharing of opinions and ideas – and one where we challenge proactively. Key to doing this has been for me to acknowledge my own weaknesses, and to not be afraid to ask for help.
My six steps
With this in mind, we can all challenge ourselves to:
- commit to inclusion – see how you can devote time and energy to supporting inclusion
- be courageous – challenge attitudes and practices and don’t be afraid to show humility and acknowledge your own limitations
- become cognisant of bias – look to understand your personal and organisational biases, so as to expand your field of vision and influence decisions
- be curious – be open-minded and look to highlight different ideas, giving people a voice and not being dismissive of people and their ideas
- promote social cultural intelligence – develop your team’s knowledge of other cultures, enhancing your ability to change your approach in response to different cultural norms
- be collaborative – create an environment where diversity of thinking and collaboration engenders a group identity, such that your team understand and value each other’s knowledge and abilities