Feeling valued is key to a truly inclusive culture

Everyone has a role to play in promoting diversity and inclusion. During National Inclusion Week, I challenge you to reach out to someone you don’t know well, ask questions and listen – be as open and curious as you can.

National Inclusion Week (23-29 September 2019) begins today and it’s also the start of the Dive In Festival – a global series of insurance events promoting diversity – with the apt theme of #InclusionImpact. But how do we ensure we’re making an impact? How do we make people feel included, valued and able to bring their best selves to work?

The answer, for me, is to treat people as individuals. No one wants to be stereotyped. Everyone is unique and has an individual contribution to make. The key is listening. When we listen we walk in someone else’s shoes and, when we’re curious we can celebrate the difference that everyone brings.

Play video
Watch our colleagues talk about why an inclusive culture is so important at RSA

This is especially important for the companies we work for. Businesses need a diverse workforce to be innovative and give customers the products and services they crave. But if diverse employees join a company with a dominant culture, are they able to bring their true selves to work? Will their full potential be realised? Will they even stay at the company?

The saying goes ‘you don’t quit companies, you quit your boss’, but I think it goes one step further: you quit cultures that don’t make you feel valued.

Building a culture of trust, psychological safety and positive reinforcement of ‘valuing difference’ must be a priority.  Creating an environment where people don’t feel drained because they feel under-valued but are energised by a sense of ‘belonging’ is what companies should strive to achieve. It’s not an easy task.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

We all have a role to play in this. Everyone must be willing to be more open, curious and to truly look beyond the surface. With a clear vision and by taking things a step at a time, an organisational culture can change for the better.

During Dive In and Inclusion Week, think about the impact you can have on others, reach out to someone you don’t know well, listen, ask questions, challenge your initial judgement on a person or a situation and above all as be open and curious as you can.

That’s when you achieve an inclusive culture that enables people to feel valued and enables allows individuals to shine. As Maya Angelou says, make sure you do something that makes people remember how you made them feel.