What has 2022 taught us about inclusion at work?
A New Normal was founded with a desire to make the world a better place. We knew that not everyone has the same opportunities or experiences in life, and we wanted to change that for the better. Everything we do is geared towards having the widest possible impact for as many people as possible - it's what we call our "ripple effect", and our objective for 2022 was to grow our ripple effect as much as possible. We don't think we've done too badly on that goal - we've worked with 13 different clients across five sectors in seven countries (and a sometimes challenging six different time zones!). These are the learnings which the last year has really reinforced:
This is much bigger than just the individuals we work with: The impact of awakening someone to the importance of inclusion is far wider reaching than just those with whom we have immediate contact... During 2022, we've worked with 13 different clients across five different sectors, and the thing which unifies all of those clients is that the impact we have is far wider than just the individuals we've spoken with. Our charity clients are now able to reach and support a far broader range of service users, our media clients are genuinely changing the world with the types of content they are putting out, our tech clients are thinking differently about how they best support their clients, and our pharmaceutical clients are thinking differently about the impact of biases in their work creating new therapies for illnesses.
There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to inclusion. All our clients are completely different from one another, and so all their approaches to inclusivity will have to be customised. Just because something has worked in one media client, that doesn't mean it'll work in another. We think it's really important to really understand the culture and context of an organisation before we start work with them.
Education rather than "training" is key when it comes to creating behavioural change. We know that the more we can encourage people to think deeply about these subjects in a safe space the better. Even the best "online course" isn't going to provide the kind of lightbulb moments a really meaningful conversation about inclusion can offer. We're proud of the fact that we've facilitated these kinds of conversations for around 600 people this year (in person and in zoom workshops), and supported around an additional 1500 people through our webinars, podcasts and YouTube channel.
It’s tough to create an inclusive environment without the presence of psychological safety. After all, how can. we expect people to share what they need to feel included if they don't even feel safe to question "the status quo" in an organisation. We're thrilled to have added the wonderful Ian Webster to our network of partners this year, and look forward to the impact we'll have next year.
Conversations about inclusion must bring everyone with them, not just those who may have been marginalised in the past. Without constructive, positive and clear strategies and communication, it is easy to alienate those who are part of traditionally powerful groups. Their ally-ship is essential to successful culture change.
Our hope in sharing these learnings is that we'll reach even more people with the ripple effect in 2023 - here's to changing the world, one person at a time!