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The Importance of Inclusion in the Workplace

Updated: Jun 20




How open are you? 


Firms across industries are increasingly prioritising Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in their recruitment strategies and corporate values. In the Asset Management sector, diversity is usually a key factor in recruitment processes.  But what about inclusion? 


Timothy R. Clarke, in his book 'The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety', discusses the importance of inclusion. He suggests that, before we interact, we are separate but not excluded. As we start to interact, we decide how to accept each other. This acceptance or rejection, inclusion or exclusion, primarily happens through granting or withholding psychological safety. This is the state we aim for in any situation, including the workplace, where we feel included, and safe to learn, contribute, and challenge the status quo without fear of embarrassment or punishment. 


In the post-Covid world, candidates are looking for a job where they feel comfortable and part of an open, non-judgemental team. Feeling secure in their role, they are free to express ideas and contribute significantly to the business. 


But what do organisations expect from candidates?  People are the heart of any business, contributing to its success. Companies thrive by maintaining a competitive edge through innovation, which is typically a collaborative process. It requires creative abrasion and constructive dissent, relying on high intellectual friction and low social friction. This innovation can only occur through open dialogue, where employees feel the company provides a 'safe space' for robust, constructive debate. 


Both candidates and clients must foster an inclusive culture to create a positive feedback loop, benefiting individuals and overall company performance. 

 


Are you fostering an inclusive or exclusive culture? 


If we can set bias aside and understand that everyone deserves to be heard and respected, the engagement changes. When managers promote open communication, employees feel respected and included, fostering a collaborative environment. This can be achieved through open discussion forums, feedback from all levels, and informal gatherings promoting open communication. 


An 'exclusive' culture often stems from insecurity, leading to the exclusion of those we are biased against. These individuals feel alienated, leading to a divided organisation or a tribal culture with cliques competing for attention from senior management. 


Managers can further encourage individuals to admit their mistakes. By showing vulnerability, including discussing their own mistakes, managers can make employees feel respected and included, fostering a more collaborative environment. With employees feeling 'heard', productivity increases as they strive to do a better job for the managers they now feel more connected with. 

However, the job doesn't stop there. Managers need to encourage debate on how they could improve. Discussion groups and reviews should be implemented across the organisation, especially across different experience levels. Anonymous 360-degree reviews should also be encouraged so that differing opinions can be considered and included in company policy, increasing staff engagement because they feel 'heard'. 


What implications does this have on Recruitment best practice? 


  1.  Make sure that you are not hiring “identikit” candidates.  Collegiate cultures are particularly at risk of hiring people who are too ‘nice’  because people who do not dilute the culture will not rock the boat.   While it is important to hire people who buy into your vision and values, focusing on conformity as part of the hiring decision, risks companies losing the ‘creative abrasion and constructive dissent’ needed to provoke improvement and change.  If everyone comes from the same social background, the same nationality, or the same educational background, constructive debate is less likely to occur through this lack of cognitive diversity.   

  2. Consider hiring people who have differing personalities and temperaments: eg: people less socially fluent and more analytical, or people more socially fluent and less analytical (depending on the existing bias on the team).  Deliberately hiring employees with more dominance and independence can be helpful: they may need more careful management, but they are still likely to bring fresh perspectives and innovation.  Or perhaps hiring people who like change and variety rather than following due process.  Godliman’s personality testing allows these attributes and behavioural preferences to be clearly flagged, so that hiring companies can make a conscious choice about temperament for inclusion. 

  3. Consider hiring more people with a neurodiverse background: eg: people with Dyslexia may be less fluent in writing but are highly creative, excellent at big-picture thinking, lateral thinking, and problem-solving and have an intuitive understanding of how things work.  Similarly, people with ADHD benefit from creativity, high levels of energy, and a propensity for multi-tasking.  Their ability to hyperfocus can lead to exceptional productivity, deep engagement, and accomplishing complex tasks efficiently. 

  4. Make sure that your interview panels are inclusive: it is important that candidates meet people from differing backgrounds otherwise the same conformist attitudes prevail. 

  5. Guard against unconscious biases that routinely occur in Interviews: for example, there is evidence that candidates deemed the most “likable” by a selection panel most often get the job.  A focus on ‘nice-ness’ can lead to the exclusion of talented candidates – particularly for Sales roles, where interviews tend to favour ‘fluff’ over ‘stuff’.  Conversely, an over-reliance on first impressions can reinforce exclusion bias. 

  6. Avoid artificially ‘adversarial’ or highly pressurised interview tactics: unless keeping calm under duress is a specific requirement of the role high pressure interview formats may deter candidates who are less dominant or less extrovert in communication style.  It also signals that the employer does not offer a safe space which will send the wrong message. 

  7. Make sure that candidates are onboarded carefully: that they feel ‘heard’ and are given a ‘voice’ – you want to maximise the benefit of inclusion by encouraging the fresh perspectives that a new employee brings.  Why not ask them to write a paper after 3 months on what they think is working well, and what might be better?  Or which practices they may they experienced in their previous roles that might benefit your company?  

 

At Godliman, we understand the dangers of unconscious bias when selecting candidates.   


Our proprietary Search process roots out exclusion bias in candidate identification and selection by subjecting all candidates to a systematic and structured three-step Best-Fit Search™ and Assessment process. 


Best-Fit Search™ uniquely evaluates candidate ‘Fit’ in the broadest possible sense: looking for the best complementary skills to the existing team, which sometimes means deliberately hiring for creative friction.  As a result, the longevity and impact in the role of our hires is significantly above the industry norm.   


If you would like advice on how you can improve your firm’s hiring processes to improve both Diversity and Inclusion, then contact us on hello@godliman.com



Last edited 10th April 2024




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