The real reasons we need to start including ourselves
“Inclusion is survival, it’s essential to what makes us human,” asserted comedian and writer Deborah Frances-White, urging delegates to get better at self-inclusion, and including others. “Tribing is the reason that we, rather than the lions, run the planet.”
For children, inclusion is automatic and assumed – “If any of our children behaved the way we behave at a networking event, we’d take them to a therapist,” she joked. But as adults, automatic inclusion is the privilege of the dominant group, while doors simply do not open for others.
“In the corporate world, the dominant group often includes itself more than the non-dominant group; that tends to be men more than women,” she noted. To avoid rejection, people include themselves only “peripherally”, without putting “their whole self in”.
As a result, “it’s possible you’re getting your most diverse ideas from your most homogenised people and your most homogenised ideas from your most diverse people,” warned Frances-White. She added that simply hiring diversely is insufficient in itself.
“You need to make those people who are diverse feel central to the tribe,” she explained. “One way to do that is to show them how to assume inclusion; another is to retrain the tribe to understand the value of their diversity.
“If you want your organisation to be more inclusive, look at people who have experienced exclusion, make them safe, central and senior in the tribe, and give them the job of including,” she advised delegates.
“The best self-includers and includers of others are diverse people.”