A Culture of Inclusion
A culture of inclusion is defined as creating and maintaining an environment in which people of different backgrounds can achieve their fullest potential (Harvard). It is a culture where different strengths are valued and celebrated. Whether in schools or in the workplace, building a culture of inclusion benefits both students/workers and the classroom/organization as a whole.
The Difference Between Diversity and a Culture of Inclusion
Though a culture of inclusion and diversity can sound similar, they are very different. You can have a diverse classroom or work environment and still not have a culture of inclusion. Diversity is simply referring to demographics. A culture of inclusion means that everyone is contributing their different voices, ideas and experiences to the overall classroom or workplace culture. This contribution supports a richer and more successful environment.
How to Create a Culture of Inclusion
Importance of Respect and Empathy
Empathy is a critical skill and a building block of creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. It is defined as the ability to emotionally understand the feelings of another. Commonly, it is described as being able to “walk in another person’s shoes.” This skill is necessary in order to create emotional growth, as well as a culture of compassion and connection. When people learn empathy, they are better able to respect other people’s thoughts, feelings, and world experiences. It is a transformative skill that changes our behaviors and the way we see others. Consequently, this is a strong focus of creating a culture of inclusion.
Culture of Inclusion in Schools
Creating a culture of inclusion in schools is important because it’s the main place young people will learn and emulate team behaviors. They are likely to carry these behaviors into the workforce and society as a whole. In addition, a culture of inclusion creates a safe classroom environment where children from all backgrounds can academically thrive.
Building a culture of inclusion in schools requires all stakeholders to share responsibility for inclusion. Some ideas for creating a more inclusive culture include:
- Anti-bullying workshops
- Diversity training
- Writing a value statement
However, it goes beyond that. Even when enacting inclusive policies and practices, inclusive culture requires a shift of attitude. The entire school must embrace it and share the responsibility for it to come to fruition. This is where empathy and teamwork is important. Building a culture of inclusion takes everyone.
How to Promote Inclusion in the Workplace
Community building in the workplace is an important aspect of cultural inclusion. Workplace community is the culture of a company and its morale. It is influenced by individual perspectives and experiences. Therefore, it is critical that the workplace community is safe, productive, and cohesive. When workplace culture is positive, employees bring their authentic selves to the team and value their work. In order to build community, a sense of belonging and connection is required. This can be done by appreciating individual and group contributions, and being responsive to employee concerns. Similarly, holding spaces to listen to employees is necessary. Inclusive behaviors in the workplace begin at the leadership level first. Leaders can model empathy in their daily interactions, which demonstrates how employees should act. Actively demonstrating empathy and respect, helps businesses and individuals to thrive.
Creating policies that promote inclusiveness is an important first step. In addition to policies, empowering team members to solve problems and come up with new ideas promotes inclusiveness. Along with empowerment, a work culture that promotes courage is one that fosters inclusiveness. Employees should feel they can stand up for what they believe in. Lastly, promoting humility in the workplace is important for creating a positive workplace culture. Humility allows team members the ability to take constructive criticism and overcome limited viewpoints by listening to others.
Building a culture of inclusion is more than just a one time training event. It is creating a shift in the overall culture. It requires commitment from everyone from leaders to employees to students alike. By creating positive environments that foster empowerment, humility and courage, both schools and workplaces are more likely to succeed.
Whether you want to improve your school, community, or workplace, Soul Shoppe provides social emotional learning programs and resources. We offer programs on cultural inclusion from teacher professional development to workplace culture training. Our team is highly trained, informative, and makes training fun. We offer a transformative experience that will leave lasting results.
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