Let’s talk about inclusiveness!

A just and fair working life is a necessity for the inclusion of diverse people at the workplace, including vulnerable groups who often remain marginalized in working life and in their professional careers. This article is an introduction to the possibilities of workplace inclusiveness in the creation of a just and fair workplace.

So what is workplace inclusiveness? Workplace inclusiveness is by no means a simple matter to describe as it has so many different sides to it! Workplace inclusiveness can be referred to as the qualities of the workplace that make the inclusion of diverse people possible. But how is inclusiveness created at the workplace? 

Inclusiveness as ”In-between people” in the social world of work

Inclusiveness can be understood as a quality of the workplace that is constructed, in other words built, in-between people in various ways in the everyday social world of the workplace. It is constantly renewed (or renounced!) in daily interaction between people at workplace. 

As we dig in deeper, we see that there are different ways for creating inclusiveness at the workplace.

The organizational structures and practices create possibilities for inclusiveness to emerge, but I would argue that inclusiveness itself is created in this “in-between people” social space in different ways.”

What I am also interested in is how diverse employees create inclusiveness for themselves in their own terms. 

As a good starting point when discussing inclusiveness is that it starts with what is in-between people, and that every individual is an active actor in the creation process.

Recognition of the other as equal

Inclusiveness can be thought of as a reciprocal relationship between an employer and an employee and work team. By reciprocity I refer here to a two-way relationship in which both parties recognize each other as equals. This relationship is built and maintained in a variety of ways.

Employees create meanings for their work based on their personal needs, believes, desires and values. And these have been molded throughout the entire life course of an individual! We are dealing with recognizing an individual’s past experiences, present reality and future desires, all in one package. Sounds like a lot of work for HR and leaders. But let’s dig in deeper.

Dialogue and genuine reciprocity

Employee and the employer engage in a dialogue and (hopefully!) build a foundation for genuine reciprocity in which enabling meanings for work and at work are also built together. This “building together part” is of particular interest to me as it is here that sustainable human resource management can make a difference.

Vulnerable employee groups often face discrimination in the face of the inequality that pervades many aspects of society, and these experiences imperceptibly limit employees’ belief in their own potential. Workplace inclusiveness refers to such a space where these discriminating forces do not have a say. 

Unity by Eduardo RS (link)

The reciprocity between employer, employee and work team is concretized in words, gestures, everyday encounters, feelings and smiles. In a simple “how are you today?” and “do you need a hand?”. It shows in a job well done, enthusiasm and commitment. In satisfied customers. As innovation. It leads to a feeling of well-being and contentment both at work and at home, when spending time with friends and family. 

Later blogs will discuss these themes in more detail as they’ve been conceptualized in management and organization studies and sustainable human resource management research literature in particular. Interesting article references will be provided in more detail.. 

I invite you to write in the comments box (bottom of the page) what you think inclusiveness is and how an organization can go about it? Do you agree with what I wrote?

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