Inclusivity in motion
To mark National Inclusion Week, we're speaking to Nina Aggarwal, Global Managing Director of fusion, to hear her top five inclusion learnings.
Here are five lessons i've learnt about inclusion over my career...
1. Push for progress over perfection.
When I started out my marketing career at a well-known FMCG brand, a senior lady and formidable leader told me that the pitch of my voice was too high for me to succeed under her watch. Fortunately for my career, she moved on. But not long after, I realised I just didn’t fit in with the culture of the company. So, I moved to another where my bosses didn’t judge my tone and where my confidence, and vocal chords, showed up at work far more relaxed.
To me, “being perfect” means there is one solution. Push for progress, not for perfection. Support the whole company to engage in progressing to a fully inclusive workplace rather than bemoaning your leaders for not having the perfect ED&I programme – there is no such thing.
2. It’s OK not to bring your “whole self” to work
As a mid-level marketer, I had a boss who told me I was too closed and that I didn’t share enough of myself at work, so I worked hard on being more open in our leadership meetings. A year later, I was told I was too open and too honest.
It’s all about a balance. Each of our own sense of balance will be unique. I learnt to be true to myself rather than to conform to others’ views of what I needed to be at work. I found my comfortable level, what level of open-ness helped me be better at work, what helped my colleagues to know about me, and what didn’t add to my work satisfaction or effectiveness. I worked out how to bring my best “work self” to work rather than feel obliged to bring my “whole self”.
Encourage people to share what they want and need to, but respect personal boundaries that people place around what they want and feel you need to know.
3. No label can capture how diverse we all are
I am as complex and unique as you.
I love brands but I don’t covet labels. I may be female, a working mother, of mixed race, but I don’t put those labels on myself each morning before I go to work. I turn up with as many complex elements in my life as the next person.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a world leading coaching company recently and through the collaboration I have heard how complex the industry of corporate engagement in ED&I is. I have learnt that there is no single right way to help every individual feel valued and to gain a rich and full sense of belonging at work. Embracing the individual differences and unique experiences we all have is key to unlocking the power of your teams.
Take your focus off labels and instead focus on improving your understanding so that you can help unlock the potent power of each and every individual.
4. Culture change needs more than one person
If you want to change your company culture you need leaders to embrace, support and champion the change. But they might not be the people who make the changes happen. Most companies probably have the people they need to make their workplace the place they want it to be. But they have to put the systems in place that allow them to instigate change.
Leaders can set the vision, give direction, provide resources and inspiration, but it’s up to all of us to make our workplace the place we love to work.
5. Never stop learning
I spent my career delivering and teaching others how to deliver impactful workshops. I studied how adults learn, and found out that it’s not so different from how children learn. I recently taught a group of non-facilitators how to run workshops. I got a big kick out of seeing their progress. As their self-confidence grew, so too did mine. I felt on top of my game.
Then I got an email from someone in IMA-HOME, asking how we design our workshops to meet the needs of the neurodiverse. I was stopped in my tracks. My learning curve took off again from its temporary plateau. We already do a lot to meet the diverse and varied ways individuals learn, but there is more we can learn and do to take our approaches to another level of engagement and impact.
We will never know it all, but if we stay open to continually learning, listening and understanding, we can keep improving ourselves, our systems and our workplaces for the good of all.