Inclusion ABC’s in the workplace…

Alphabet depiction of inclusion best practices for teaching
Graphic by Kristin Weins

As a mother of a young child, I’m interested in inclusion, both in the workplace and the classroom. And I’m not convinced there’s all that much difference in how we’d all like to be treated by others. Adult or child.

This brilliant graphic depicts inclusive best practice for quality teaching. I loved it the second I saw it. And the results of these strategies, when applied within the classroom, are mindblowing. Why wouldn’t we apply them to the workplace too?   

A – All means all. Does your organisation ensure that the workplace is accessible for everyone?

B – Behaviour is communication.  If something has changed in your workplace, what is this telling you?

C – Choice. We all like to have some!
D – Be a behaviour detective.  If an employee’s behaviour concerns you; have you tried to find out the why behind it?
E – Everyone starts together. See cartoon!
F – Fair means everyone getting their needs met. Flexible working, support from Access to Work. So many solutions for so many different needs.
H – Child honouring. The view that how we regard and treat our young is the key to building a humane and sustainable world. And indeed workforce.
I – Independence. Do you trust your employees? Do you let them work with autonomy and self-control?
J – Joyful learning.  Oh yes, please! Always more of this.
K – Kids do well if they can.  This is a biggie. I’ve learnt a lot from Ross Greene. His philosophy is that ‘kids do well if they can’ rather than ‘kids do well if they want to’. Skills versus motivation. And surely it applies to adults too? What might be getting in someone’s way? What lagging skills need developing?
L – Lead with strengths. This one sounds obvious but how often do we do this? Reshuffle job specs? Give people the opportunities to shine?
M – Movement breaks. Banish deskbound culture and presenteeism. Consider alternative work practices and increase productivity.
N – Needs-based. Identify what people need to succeed and try to meet those needs.
O –  Open-mindedness. One of the many cultural rewards of a diverse workforce.
P – Plan and purpose. Are employees involved in the planning process? Are people set up to succeed?
Q – Question unexpected behaviour. Back to the b of behaviour as communication.
R – Relationship. Nurturing strong relationships that increase confidence and competence.
S – Self-regulation. Not just for children! What do we need to live and work optimally? A quiet space? Fresh air? Working with headphones? Movement?
T – Assistive technology. There are now so many examples of devices that can assist employees in the workplace. Find out about them. They can be transformational. The charity AbilityNet is one place to start.
 U – Unconditional positive regard. Seems simple. Harder than you think. In a nutshell, this means valuing the person as doing their best to move forward in their lives constructively and respecting the person’s right to self-determination no matter what they choose to do.
V – Visuals.  Again, not just for the children! Visual communication is preferred by many but often underutilised.
W – Words make worlds. Words are powerful. Don’t use them carelessly. Take a closer look at some of the words you use in your workplace. ‘Disclosure’ of disability for example. Interrogate the language you use.
X  – Extra processing time. Give people extra processing time if they need it. It pays off!
Y – The power of yet. Another one that’s not just for the children. Many of us will focus on what we haven’t accomplished. What we can’t do. What we haven’t done. Add ‘yet’ on and change your mindset.
Z – The zone of proximal development. Sounds like something to do with space. But pretty easy to consider in the workplace. Imagine we all have a comfort zone, a learning zone, and a panic zoneThe comfort zone can get a little dull.  And even frustrating. It might have pizza and a sofa but I imagine disengagement is common. If we aim for the zone of proximal development we can stretch ourselves just enough to be able to learn and flourish. But without hitting the panic zone where we might become stressed or fearful.

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