6 Ways We Avoid Inclusion

It is the responsibility of everyone to create safe, healthy and inclusive workplaces by encouraging, expecting, recognizing and embracing differences.

Yet here in the real world, inclusion rarely happens. Based on the observations of cultural competency expert, Fernando Ortiz, here are some of the reasons we avoid the difficult work of inclusion.

I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
We point the finger at the other person responsible for the difference we have to embrace. We get angry. “Why can’t they be like me? I am not the problem, they are the problem.” Like a fish, we are the last ones to know we are out of the water.

I Could be Doing More
We make ourselves feel guilty by listening to our inner critic. We are unable to process the ambiguity of the moment because we are searching for the quick fix. We need to make peace with the difference in order to gauge the opportune moment to recognize and embrace it.

I Am Doing Enough Already
We get offensive. “Hey, I already serve on the diversity committee. What more do you want me to do?” Our entitlement is deafening. We forget that even as inclusion practitioners, our stuff stinks too.

Others Things Are More Important
We feel turned off. We allow issues like sequestration, budget cuts, reduced travel, limited training and sparse career development to distract us from the heavy lifting demanded by inclusion. We forget that the very inclusion we ignore can soften the blow of external factors beyond our control that threaten engagement.

The Problem is Too Big
We feel helpless. We want to do something but we do not know where to start. We can’t get our arms around the challenge. We sit back and let others do the heavy lifting.

Something May Happen If I Do Something
We feel afraid. “If I have that courageous conversation about a difference, someone may file a discrimination complaint against me.” We need to accept the hard reality that inclusion is a contact sport.

We can postpone the challenging work of inclusion or we can start confronting behaviors that prevent us from reaching our full potential in the workplace. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who can bring their full selves to work. Those of us whose differences remain unembraced are left wondering if we will ever enjoy the same luxury.

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