If you were to ask my team one of the things I most value about them, it would be the diversity of thought that they bring.
At our latest team away-day, we used a personality-type quiz to understand the different ways of approaching the work we do in the Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion team. They’re lots of fun and really get the conversation started. We found (unsurprisingly) that there are many ways in which we differ. We’re a mix of introverts and extroverts, strategic and analytical thinkers, and those who focus on building relationships and empathy with others.
We use our weekly team meetings to have open team discussions about things that are worrying us, problems we need input into, or help to nudge things in the right direction. I love it when we put our knowledge of inclusion into practice to create spaces where we can bounce ideas off each other, to test out hypotheses and push boundaries.
Last year, we worked with the Behavioural Insights Team and the CIPD to create a new diagnostic tool for measuring how inclusive our organisations are. This taught us that to feel included, people need to be able to be their authentic self, to have a sense of belonging and to trust that their voice will be heard and acted on.
It’s a huge privilege to be part of the team responsible for building the evidence base around how we can be more inclusive. That’s because we also understand why it's so important – because it creates the conditions where we can really leverage the diversity bonus of those different thinking styles and approaches, and maximise the value we get from our diverse skills, expertise and experience.
Being inclusive helps us be the most effective and innovative version of ourselves – better at spotting, discussing and addressing risks, better at understanding what our stakeholders need, and better at coming up with creative solutions.
Every interaction we have as a team is a chance to practice building that sense of inclusion. One of the things we’ve been experimenting with in our larger monthly meetings is the idea of a ‘virtual host’ to make sure that the experience of those joining via hangouts is just as good as that of people in the room.
The virtual host sets up an IM conversation with the people joining remotely and keeps them involved by making sure they can hear what’s going on, sharing photos from the room and filling in any gaps (“that laughter just now was because the poster fell off the wall and ended up behind a radiator!”). They create virtual versions of collaborative materials used in the room and make sure people joining remotely get a chance to contribute to discussions. Feedback tells us it’s a much better experience.
First-ever inclusion 'unconference'
So, we’re experimenting – and we know we’re not the only ones. That’s why we want to create a space to share all the great ways teams across the Civil Service are building inclusion.
2020 is our Year of Inclusion, and we’re holding our first-ever inclusion 'unconference'. An unconference means no set speakers, no fixed agenda, no selling or promotional activity. Unconferences offer a space to learn, experiment, network and reflect with people who bring a wide spectrum of ideas and perspectives.
If you’re free on the 29 April 2020, I’d love for you to join this first-ever inclusion unconference. This is an open invitation to any civil servant. You don’t have to be a member of a staff network or part of a diversity and inclusion team, but you must be willing to try something a bit different and share your thoughts. Tickets are free but places are limited. You can sign up for the unconference here.