If I could boil down the answer to why we are so terrible at being as inclusive as we think we are, it would be one word.
We run away from discomfort. And meaningful, long-lasting, life-changing inclusion––as an individual and in workplaces–requires us to lean into discomfort.
So many workplace inclusion efforts fail because we overlook the fact that inclusion is much more than inconsistent – and often performative! – actions that prioritize our comfort.
Inclusion is a mindset. One that requires ongoing, intentional development.
And it will make us uncomfortable if we’re getting it right.
To cultivate an inclusion mindset, you have to ground yourself in a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, has shown that success hinges on believing that you can learn and grow in the face of challenges. In contrast, a fixed mindset keeps us stuck and shying away from challenges, believing our talents are innate rather than developed through practice and perseverance.
I’ll never sugarcoat it: cultivating an inclusion mindset takes consistent work. It requires you to seek input from and listen to others. It forces you to address our own biases and racism. I can guarantee you’ll feel uncomfortable.
In fact, if you never feel uncomfortable while learning about workplace inclusion… then you probably aren’t really doing the work.
It helps to expect discomfort. This is why I developed the BRIDGE acronym, which I explore in my book Inclusion on Purpose.
Cultivating an inclusion mindset requires us to:
Reflect on what you don’t know
Don't get defensive
Grow from your mistakes
Expect that change takes time
The BRIDGE framework is my guide to get you started, built on the foundation of so many experts in this field.
I was honored when Dr. Brené Brown told me how much she loved the way I frame this (faint!), when I was on her Dare to Lead podcast! Precisely because there’s an intrinsic connection between having the courage to be uncomfortable and vulnerable while working towards an inclusive, antiracist workplace and world.
I am there with you
Here’s what really helps me when I feel uncomfortable in this work: the reminder that I’m not alone.
I’m not the only one who’s uncomfortable. I’m not the only one who makes mistakes. I’m not the only one not sure what to do next.
We all make mistakes and we can all learn from them.
So let’s flip the script and actually learn from each other cultivating an inclusion mindset. When was a time you felt uncomfortable or made a mistake in your inclusion mindset? What did you learn? What did you do differently? I can’t wait to hear your stories. It might sound cliche, but it’s true: we’re all in this together.