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Being Inclusive Starts with YOU!

S. Reed (sreed[at]stsci.edu)

Abstract

How important is an inclusive environment to diversity? Can an individual impact how inclusive an organization is?  What can you do to make sure you are being inclusive? This article explores these questions from a personal perspective.

Introduction

I recently read an article that said inclusion is the only scalable way to build diversity within an organization. Without thoughtful and deliberate discussion and action to cultivate an inclusive environment, all the energy and resources spent on recruiting a diverse workforce are for naught. The employees, so painstakingly recruited, will be gone within three months to a year. The premise of the article was that companies, hiring managers, HR, etc., need to put more time into how to shift their culture in order to allow a diverse collection of people to coalesce and flourish. 

Being a member of Invision here at the Institute, I have spent a lot of time thinking about inclusion, what it means, and asking myself am I inclusive? Are there things I could be doing that are making people feel excluded? Most people tend to judge themselves on their intent, but judge others on their actions. After all, I know my intentions are good, but what are my actions saying to other people? Could I be more deliberate in my actions and speech to make our culture and environment more inclusive? What if everyone were to ask themselves this question? 

Practicalities: The Institute

What can I do to make Space Telescope Science Institute more inclusive?

Most people think that diversity and inclusion are leadership or HR topics to implement, manage and drive. However, every individual employee impacts our culture. Everyone wants to fit in, feel accepted, feel like they matter and belong. How can we expect to build a truly diverse workforce—one that attracts and engages people of all types and keeps the organization open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, new people, and new leadership, if we don’t consider that individually we are part of the equation?

Our daily actions, unconscious and conscious, cultivate the experiences we are providing the people we work with. How are we making the people we work with feel? Are we using gender neutral language? Are we considering what we are talking about and whether the topic might make someone feel excluded?

Some things we could all start doing to create a stronger, more inclusive culture:

  • Bounce an idea off of someone unexpected on your team or another team.
  • Ask a new employee to go to lunch.
  • Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
  • Change up your environment. Go sit somewhere else in the building.
  • Rotate who runs your meetings. Give everyone on the team an opportunity.
  • Leave your assumptions at the door. Ask if you don’t know, but don’t assume.
  • Talk about something other than work. Ask about someone’s hobbies or what book they have recently read.
  • Reach out to a new employee to tell them about an Institute club in which you belong.

A diverse workforce is a company’s lifeblood, and diverse perspectives and approaches are the only means of solving complex and challenging business issues. Deriving the value of diversity means uncovering all talent, and that means creating a workplace characterized by inclusion. We can all have a positive impact and contribute to an inclusive culture.

When I leave Space Telescope I want to be remembered as someone who was good to work with and that made people feel good about themselves and their contributions. How do you want to be remembered? How will you be remembered?