Inclusion by definition implies that we, as a society, are going out of our way to bring someone into our fold. While it is an encouraging sign, it could also border on trying to align someone with a group. Being inclusive is a great trait. But being inclusive and allowing for individuality to co-exist is even better.
True inclusion is when differences are not just respected but eagerly embraced. It is when people are valued for who are they and not for their demographic profile. It is when dignity is maintained, basic needs are fulfilled – and the social fabric is enriched by the ready acceptance of newer additions, newer ideas.
We all have that strain of goodness in us that reaches out to others. But true sensitivity lies in the way you welcome someone unconditional openness. It is tough to unlearn what the mind has filed away as neatly tied up clusters and in carefully segregated compartments. If we approach a meeting with a ground-zero clean-slate attitude, we will often find our toughest resistance comes from our own mental categorisations. The secret lies in stilling the chatter at the back of your head and hearing the conversation happening in front of you.
Inclusion is often used these days to add the value of diversity to a group – a group you already belong to and are willing to expand. But why not look at someone new as part of a group too – one that is now ready to include you? That way we put in place a leveller, making everyone in the mix equal and equally empowered.
The way forward, I think, would be to see how we can turn diversity from a word on a tick-box into a cultural groundswell…