Everyone wants to be accepted and included. Acceptance is about what’s right, whereas Inclusion is about what’s earned. Being accepted for who you are is one of the basic human rights. The ability to be included in a group, organization, or community is about the value you can offer. When people discuss the topic of Diversity, they often conflate and confuse the issues of acceptance and inclusion.
Someone who appears or acts differently should not be rejected, bullied, or cast aside. Everyone should be accepted for who they are and how they look. When we see behaviors that violate the right of acceptance, they should be called out. Schools are a great example of these violations happening every day. Kids are called “cliquish” when they only accept others who are like them in their group. This is a failure of emotional intelligence, which is not taught in school (seems odd). We let this go because it’s not part of the curriculum.
In classrooms and in team sports, we frequently hear about questions or ideas that are not being answered or heard. In social settings, especially in social media, we hear about kids being coerced into doing things that they oppose so they can remain in the group so they can be included. In organizations, we often hear about people wanting to contribute ideas or improvements or even suggest change who are rejected (often outright). This is a failure of listening, learning, and inclusion.
Unfortunately, it creates an imbalance of knowledge and behaviors that undermine the development of future and current managers and leaders. Leadership development, coaching, consulting, etc. is one of the most lucrative consulting practices in the world. There isn’t a higher education curriculum that doesn’t attempt to capitalize on leadership and/or executive development. Yet, even with all this money being poured into these individuals and institutions, most of the issues (esp. the big ones facing us today) are due to failures of leadership.
Because no one is teaching young people the necessary skills to become well-balanced individuals and leaders. You don’t have to be a leader to appreciate the value of emotional intelligence, but you will never be a successful leader without it.
Too many organizations are fixated on Diversity and all too often they are applying the ARK approach to ensure we have 2 of everyone in meetings as a way to ensure we “listened” to everyone’s opinions. Diversity is important, but it’s only a part of the underlying issues that hold us back from being fully developed cognitively and emotionally. The broader context should be to focus on inclusivity. Inclusivity only works when we have acceptance and trust, which rely upon diversity and equality.
More recently, we are seeing consultants promoting DEI (diversity, equality, inclusivity) as the latest lucrative effort to restore the social balance. DEI positions inclusivity on par with diversity and equality as if to suggest that these all working in harmony. Addressing the imbalance of cognitive and emotional development is a bit more complex than a Venn diagram (as DEI suggests). Inclusivity is the culmination of diversity and equity applied in collaborative environments that encourage creativity and cooperation. We don’t really teach collaboration, but we do have brief introductions of cooperation in classrooms. The education system and structured athletic activities immerse students in competitive situations NOT collaborative ones. So, introducing concepts around inclusivity without the opportunity to apply the principles, concepts, and methods (techniques) in real situations suggests that it will not take hold.
What is needed is a long view around developing collaborative environments for students and adults that encourage and nurture (rewards) the right behaviors and applied intellect to attain achievements individually and collectively. This is what we need for a successful individual and society. It’s a bit more complex than DEI, but the hard work in building a better society and future is what makes the future of education and work a worthwhile endeavor.