Inclusion. It’s hard to describe, but you know how it feels. It’s when you feel safe, valued, and a sense of belonging. In fact, it’s usually easier to describe times when you’ve felt exclusion. That time you weren’t included in a decision that affected your work. That time you weren’t given a chance to learn something new. That time you didn’t feel you could be yourself. That time you went the extra mile, and no one seemed to notice.
Sometimes we may not even realize we are excluding others. We may just assume others think like us. Perhaps, in our rush to accomplish tasks, we don’t realize that we’ve left someone out of the process. Other times we don’t even consider the possibility of another perspective.
Thankfully, there are some great examples of inclusion in our companies. Experienced drivers taking new drivers under their wings. A foreman taking extra time to explain the reason behind things instead of just assigning tasks. Teammates that show up to cheer on their coworker in their soccer league. An IT professional in the trenches to make sure employees feel comfortable using new software. A truck supervisor who recognizes and rewards the extra effort of one of his drivers. A team that helps a coworker navigate a difficult family health situation. A lead who gives a “crazy idea that might just work” a chance. A coworker who warns his friend about a safety issue he couldn’t see. Teams that express differing opinions with respect and without anger. A clerk that helps customers feel heard no matter how rough of a day they’ve had.
As we start 2022, what can you do to help build our community? What supplier can you give a chance? Who can you teach? Who else can you reach out to for a different perspective? Who can you ask to challenge your assumptions? Who can you spend extra time hearing? What culture do you know little about? What small business can you support at lunch? Who may feel excluded by the terminology you use, even though you don’t mean to offend? Sometimes we must ask ourselves, “Who have I excluded today?” It’s a tough question, but afterwards, it’s easier to then ask, “Who can I include today?”
In all the building we do, let’s not forget to build us.