is your team inclusive intelligent

Think about it. An organisation may have great policies and initiatives to drive the diversity and inclusion agenda. However, where does an employee first experience the feeling of being included? Where does an employee have the daily experience of being part of an inclusive organisation?

It is in their immediate team.

Imagine this. An organisation-led maternity policy allows shorter duration of work hours up to a certain duration after a new mother returns to work. However, it will be lost in transit if members of her team keep making consistent calls to her for clarifications or queries, long after she has left the workplace. This will then be a great policy that is known to the returning mother, but not ‘experienced’.

And herein lies the importance of creating teams that are ‘inclusive intelligent’.

This goes beyond conducting sessions on unconscious biases or team building. In order to have a transformative impact on the daily experiences of a minority employee, certain conditions should be fulfilled at the team level.

  • The presence of a safe environment: The workplace should be a space where any individual member does not feel a loss in position on account of their difference. For example, when offering a view point largely different from the rest of the team (cognitive diversity), or when coming out of the closet (sexual diversity). In short, whatever the circumstances be, the employee needs to feel secure.
  • Deep levels of trust within team members: This means that members have to feel deeply respected for their views, contributions etc. A team that fosters trusting relationships amongst its members will actively work to be sensitive of each other’s emotions and be there to support each other. Knowing that one’s mistakes will not become a judgment of one’s potential, for example, is one such important aspect of trust within the team. 
  • High team awareness: By this, we mean that the team as a whole is highly cognizant and mindful of how it is functioning, and the impact of team dynamics on not only the individual members, but also those who are outside of it. This, in effect, means that everyone is aware of how the actions and behaviors taken individually as well as a team impacts other people. Such kind of an awareness of others shows ‘intent of inclusivity’ rather than taking on a ‘them vs us’ stance. This can be best observed during cross-functional meetings.
  • High sense of team identity: Teams take on their own personality and identities too. This, of course, is often influenced by the team leader. Some teams, for example, are considered to be supportive, some the exact opposite, and some may have the identity of being proactive. If there is dissonance here and an employee does not feel in sync with this identity of the team that she or he is a part of, it will impact their sense of belongingness, which in turn will impact inclusion.
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