Inclusion Myths Debunked
5 inclusion myths debunked, and how we can be more inclusive in our daily working lives.
One of the greatest misconceptions about our workplaces is that most people work for large corporations. This is simply not the case and has resulted in a lot of workplace “truisms” that are simply not applicable to the average employee.
Most people work in SMEs or micro businesses (95% in Europe) with an increasing number becoming freelancers (5.6 million globally) The question, therefore, is how can we become more inclusive in our daily working lives if we are not part of large corporate infrastructure with D.E.&I Directors, Champions and Ambassadors, ERGs and all the other large organisational frills and twiddly bits.
This is why there is an “I” in inclusion. We can all make an effort to be more inclusive whatever the size of our businesses.
MYTH NUMBER ONE
❎ I am a freelancer there is nothing I can do on my own. I am one person. WRONG
Here’s what you can do:
- Educate yourself – understand your position of privilege
- Check your own biases
- Be an ally and advocate
- Practice inclusivity in your own sphere of activity.
- Become an upstander and role model
3Plus offers professional unconscious bias training programmes. Find out more HERE.
MYTH NUMBER TWO
❎ My business is small, so it doesn’t matter – WRONG.
Many people think that diversity and inclusion initiatives are not necessary for managers of small teams, and even less so for small business owners.
However, even small organisations are legally obliged to provide workplaces free from discrimination, intimidation, hostility, and humiliation.
MYTH NUMBER THREE
❎ Small organisations are automatically inclusive – WRONG
In small organisations, sometimes the power dynamic can be enhanced and is part of the way things are run here ethos by the “boss.” Relationships and networks are more informal so employees can be intimidated and even more reluctant to speak up than if they worked in a large organisation, because they are afraid of “causing trouble.”
MYTH NUMBER 4
❎ Diversity and inclusion initiatives are for large organisations – WRONG.
The quote that “Diversity is a fact, and inclusion is an action,” applies to every size organisation. Managers must still be intentional. It doesn’t require reams of jargon or a large budget for someone to manage a small team or business inclusively. It is essentially down to YOU the manager or even more so, the OWNER of a small company to make a difference.
It’s about changing daily habits which are FREE.
It’s important to become an ally.
MYTH NUMBER 5
❎ Diverse and gender-balanced organisations are automatically inclusive: WRONG.
It is highly possible for a diverse organisation or team to exclude others, even within groups that were previously considered to be “Outsiders” Bias exists in all of us.
Why your business is not your family
Many employees in small businesses and their owners may claim that their workplaces are like “family.” But remember not all families are caring and nurturing. They can be highly dysfunctional and cause immense pain and damage.
These are the dangers in running your business like a family.
1. Informal power dynamics
In small teams, businesses, and flatter organisations, the chain of command can be less rigid, but that can also mean that the power dynamics can be influenced by personal relationships and informal networks. High levels of loyalty are expected and there can be a blurring of job roles with employees working either above or below their skill set or official role to deliver results. Compensation levels may be below market rate, but with sometimes “generous” gestures at the time of personal events (birthdays, marriage) rather than contractually agreed financial incentives.
2. Blurring of roles
This is especially true if some of the employees are long-serving and have a strong loyalty to the “boss” and there is an overlap between the personal and professional lives when boundaries can become blurred. Gender stereotyped chores found in traditional women’s domestic roles in real families may apply in the workplace where women assume an even greater share of “feminine coded” tasks.
3. Lack of protection
The fear of economic reprisals can be more immediate without the support of the structure of a large organization’s H.R. department, DE&I function or trade union. There can also be concerns about reputation damage if there is a separation if there is a shared network that bridges both professional and social.
Families can be unwelcoming to outsiders, especially when it comes to differences in class, race, or sexuality when cultural fit into a small unit becomes more important. This can make outsiders feel psychologically insecure, unwelcome, or excluded at any time. Sometimes these behaviours, especially in a smaller group where everyone is familiar with each other, are disguised as jokes, banter and ” just how it is.”
In France, there is a duty of care by business owners towards employees. It is illegal to allow a workplace culture that tolerates any type of sexual harassment or abuse.
These differences can be more easily accommodated or disguised in larger organisations. Source: https://hbr.org/2021/10/the-toxic-effects-of-branding-your-workplace-a-family
Does your workplace lack diversity? 3Plus can help you with our specialist services for Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment.