Making big strides in your inclusion journey is essential to creating an environment where everyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, feels safe and accepted. Altering company policies, establishing diversity and inclusion councils, or offering training sessions are all important steps in achieving this goal. In the process of enacting these changes, however, it can be easy to forget the most basic ways you can instill inclusion in your community. Here are some everyday inclusion opportunities that you may have overlooked.
1. Listen and Learn
Trying to be proactive by leading conversation is important to fostering an inclusive environment. Listening can be even more impactful. Facilitate discussions where you are willing to step out of the driver’s seat and embrace the role of a passenger. Demonstrating a desire to learn will allow those around you to share their stories and feel comfortable doing so. While having these discussions, make sure your opinions do not undermine the experiences of others. You will never see the world through another pair of eyes, so even if your journey has been different from another’s. Welcome that disparity, prioritizing empathy and perspective to ensure your peer feels heard.
2. Avoids Assumptions
During everyday interactions and conversations with those around you, remember that you can’t and shouldn’t assume things about individuals based on their race, gender, sexuality, or other parts of their identity. If two of your peers are gay, for example, do not assume that their experience coming out was the same. No two journeys are identical. With that in mind, let people share bits and pieces of their story in a way that is comfortable to them, if at all.
3. Celebrate Diversity with Small Gestures
While concrete changes or contributions make an empowering statement when it comes to diversity and inclusion, these opportunities aren’t always viable on a daily basis. There are, however, small gestures that can help demonstrate to those around you that they are welcome. At work, demonstrating allyship can come in many forms. An example of a small gesture includes building your awareness of cultural holidays and marking them down on your calendar. When you want to connect with another human being, you can extend an olive branch by acknowledging and expressing interest in a cultural celebration near and dear to their heart.
Simple, easy steps like these show how important valuing diversity truly is while connecting your community and providing informal educational experiences.