Next week is National Inclusion Week, an annual event dedicated to promoting inclusion in the workplace.
This year's theme, 'Take Action Make Impact’, aims to reinforce that small actions can have a cumulatively powerful effect, and serves as a helpful reminder that everyone can play a role in creating inclusive cultures.
As the Government Commercial Function (GCF) gets ready to celebrate, Kirstin Gemmell, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the function, explains some of the ways in which we can take action and make an impact. “In the spirit of this year’s theme, we are encouraging colleagues across the function to take steps to support the delivery of our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and help us become the exemplar of inclusion we aspire to be. These actions don’t have to involve a huge investment of time or resources; often it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.
“Opening up a dialogue about diversity and inclusion can be a helpful starting point. Often, colleagues can be uncomfortable talking about diversity and inclusion, stemming from a fear they might say the wrong thing.
“Creating a safe space and inviting ideas about simple ways we can adopt a more inclusive approach to team meetings, projects, and priorities can help to generate new and innovative suggestions.
“We know how powerful it is to hear about the lived experience of our colleagues, and throughout the week, we will be celebrating the diversity of the function by sharing stories from our people.
“Creating opportunities for colleagues to share their experience, and encouraging others to listen to and learn from these experiences, helps us see things from a different perspective and has proven immensely effective in raising awareness, combating stereotypes and stigmas and inspiring action.”
The GCF has five fantastic diversity networks. They are the Gender Network, Disability and Neurodivergence Network, LGBTQ+ Network, Social Mobility Network and Positive Support Group (Race Network).
Kirstin continues: “Diversity networks are a great way to bring people together and accelerate action, so signing up as a member can be an effective way to influence positive change.
“Having the courage to challenge is hugely important when it comes to advancing inclusion. Whether it is suggesting a more inclusive approach or raising concerns about inappropriate or discriminatory language or behaviour, it is crucial that colleagues do not stay silent and feel encouraged and supported to speak up using the appropriate channels.
“There are plenty of other ways people can take action and make an impact, from taking the time to learn about an aspect of diversity or inclusion they’re less familiar with, declaring diversity data and helping their organisation achieve a clearer picture of workforce representation, adding pronouns to their email signature to signal support for gender diversity, making a conscious effort to use inclusive language, there’s no shortage of opportunities to take action.”
Kirstin adds that if we want to harness the power of inclusion truly, it’s important a commitment to taking action is enduring and extends beyond National Inclusion Week. “By taking some time to reflect and think about the ways we can embed inclusion in the work we do every day, we will be better positioned to deliver our ambition. Making small changes to the way we approach our work can have an enormous impact on enriching our culture," she concludes.