Yes, there are limits to “inclusion”

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Inclusion has become a stand-alone business in our world today. Many companies have added a title similar to Chief Inclusion Officer or Vice-President, Inclusion to combat what many believe is lack of inclusion in our corporate culture. Inclusion has become almost synonymous with motherhood, apple pie, and the Fourth of July.

Many individuals have also adopted the “inclusion” mindset. It has become highly negative and corrosive to be anything other than an inclusive person. No manager can be successful that does not publicly embrace inclusion.

I believe that “inclusion” has become a brand or mindset, rather than a set of behaviors or actions. We can simply state that we are inclusive as corporations or individuals and, magically, we are embraced as inclusive. However, our actions don’t always align with our words.

Inclusion has a very specific meaning that has somehow become lost in today’s politically correct or sensitive world. Inclusion, simply stated, should mean that everyone has an equal OPPORTUNITY to participate. There are no limits to this opportunity. Inclusion, however, is NOT something that means equal results, or equal rewards, or equal standing. It merely means that everyone has a chance to achieve success, participate, have a say, and enjoy the same benefits as everyone else on the team.

Somehow, inclusion has come to mean that we accommodate every type of behavior that might arise. Yes, there are limits to inclusion. Here a few:

  1. Bad behavior should not be tolerated in the name of “inclusion” – When individuals behave unprofessionally or in a way to harms the team or other individuals, this bad behavior must be excluded.
  2. Not everyone gets a trophy or participation award; performance still matters – Too many organizations want recognized or rewarded simply because they have created a “world-class” inclusion organization. Without results, this does not add value. Unless this effort produces a measurably better result, it is either ineffective or lacks proper focus.
  3. Offensive, abusive, and disruptive individuals must be excluded – No one should be subjected to these offenses. When this occurs, a good leader takes decisive action. Additionally, those that try to bully others must either be controlled or changed.
  4. Those that fail to provide equal opportunity for all should be excluded – Likewise, we should not tolerate individuals that do not provide equal opportunities to others. For example, a team may claim that it is “inclusive” just because it has more than 50% women or minority team members. However, if these individuals then don’t have an opportunity to fully participate, this “inclusive” claim is irrelevant.
  5. Inclusion is important, but there are no free rides for non-participants – The companion to equal opportunity is equal effort or equal sacrifice or equal participation. Ensure that all team members are equally accountable for results.

I am a strong advocate for inclusion. I strived through my entire 40 year career to ensure that barriers to inclusion were eliminated. I am very proud to count many individuals advancing in their careers because I helped provide an opportunity that might not have come otherwise. But, I do not believe in promoting inclusion to the detriment of the team. Inclusion is intended to ensure that we ultimately obtain the best result possible; that we add as much value as we can; that our customers are delighted; and that we do the right things well. When we do irresponsible things in the name of inclusion to the detriment of those results, we do no one a favor.

Thanks for all you do to include everyone! Have a great day! Remember, this could be your very best day yet!

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