Today is International Women’s Day!

As with every day, it’s a great reminder to show gratitude to those women in our lives, and I look forward to celebrating the amazing women in my life who support, encourage, and empower me.

After a few keynote presentations today and attending a client event, I look forward to reflecting on the women who are part of who I am and who I am continually becoming. 

My Mum has taught me so much and continues to do so. There are so many qualities within me that stem from the lessons and insights I gleaned growing up. Anything I have ever wanted to do or be, my Mum always encouraged me to be true to myself, be me, work hard, find purpose, and stay focused. 

Leaving the safe cocoon of the corporate world 18 years ago to start my own Executive training & Coaching company has been no easy feat. The discipline, grit, gratitude, and grace I have needed and continue to need come from the reserves of support, advice, and insights I have accumulated throughout my life from some very special women.

The theme this year is #InspireInclusion

To me, inclusion is simply the practice of ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their differences, backgrounds, cultures, or identities, are respected, valued, and given opportunities. In the workplace, inclusion involves creating environments where diversity is embraced, and every person feels a sense of belonging, fostering a society of acceptance, empathy, and equal participation.

Being Italian, on one side, I have always been attracted to people from different cultures and backgrounds. I have never looked at anyone as different; we are all human beings and connected. We all have special gifts to bring to the table, and every workplace is a melting pot of diversity and skill that needs to be appreciated and leveraged.

Inclusivity is non-negotiable, and we need to embrace it in and out of the workplace.

We need to understand others, learn about what makes them unique and take the time to connect. Remember that no one is the same and that is a good thing.

People are like colours

We all emit different tones and hues

Alone, we are unique

Together, we are one and a rainbow of multi-faceted diversity

We all have different experiences, skills, passions, traits, and motivators, and the diversity of these factors creates our unique blueprint.

Inclusivity, as with equity, can give us a sense of belonging. When we embrace equity, we embrace diversity and inclusion to help drive success for all.

Creating an inclusive workplace involves fostering an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and supported regardless of their background, identity, or beliefs.

6 Ways to promote inclusion in the workplace:

Foster Open Communication

Leaders should encourage open communication and create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This includes actively seeking out diverse perspectives and feedback from employees. Coaching 1:1 is also a great way to truly connect and understand others.

Implement regular feedback mechanisms such as surveys, focus groups, or suggestion boxes to gather insights on the workplace climate and identify areas for improvement.

Encourage active listening at all organisational levels. Leaders should be approachable and receptive to feedback from diverse sources.

Lead by example

Senior leadership plays a crucial role in setting the tone for inclusivity. Leaders should demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion through their actions, policies, and decision-making.

Showcase diverse role models within your workplace.  A great idea is to highlight individuals from various backgrounds in leadership positions to inspire others and demonstrate that this pathway is possible for everyone.

Model inclusive behaviours and be committed to creating a culture of equity and inclusion. Leaders should set clear expectations for their team and hold themselves and others accountable for equitable behaviours. This needs to be reviewed ongoing as team dynamics change.

A great team conversation to have:
What does the team expect of you?
What do you expect of the team?
What does each individual expect of themselves and each other?

Identify and leverage differences

We all have differing skills, experiences, motivations, beliefs, and ideas. The key is to invest time in understanding each person's strengths. 

Who are they, really? What are they great at? What lights them up at work? What transferable experience could they contribute to the team? What is their story?

When we are aware of what makes people tick and what they can contribute, we can appreciate these things and complement each other to leverage a strength-based team and organisation. When people get to do the things that light them up and share their uniqueness, this becomes a superpower, as differences are leveraged, not left in the dark. Inclusion is the outcome of this.

Cultivate a Sense of Belonging

The best way workplaces can nurture a sense of belonging is by promoting inclusivity, appreciating diverse viewpoints, and establishing a supportive atmosphere.

This needs to start with leaders displaying a dedication to fairness and attentively considering all perspectives. Initiatives such as employee resource groups, mentorship schemes, and inclusive policies empower individuals. Recognising and celebrating diversity through cultural events and educational sessions can assist in fostering mutual understanding. Promoting teamwork across departments and acknowledging accomplishments can reinforce a sense of value. This collective approach creates a sense of belonging that naturally thrives within the workplace.

Create a Gift Mindset Culture

The Gift Mindset is one where we unwrap the lessons in our experiences, negative or positive. When we create regular forums in the workplace for individuals to identify and share their gifts (lessons) learnt from challenges, mistakes, and successes, we gain a deeper, more connected understanding of each other. 

Many of our clients are running “Win Wednesdays” and “Failure Fridays”, where they share weekly wins and challenges/mistakes and share how they moved through these. This creates the sharing of best practices, connection to each other and the sharing of lessons that could be a survival guide for someone else. Sharing our experiences and the strategies that got us through opens the portal to real collaboration, appreciation of diversity and inclusion.

Review and Renew Policies and Practices

Assess and update HR policies and practices regularly to ensure they are inclusive and equitable. This includes recruitment, hiring, onboarding, promotions, and performance evaluations.

Implement flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, to accommodate diverse needs and lifestyles.

Offer inclusive benefits packages that consider employees' diverse needs, such as parental leave, mental health resources, and accessibility accommodations.

Implementing these key strategies can create more inclusive workplaces where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best work.

What practices, behaviours and conversations have you implemented to forge inclusion in your organisation?

Lead to be Limitless!