Taking collective action for inclusion

27 July 2021 THERE’S something extraordinary about taking part in a collective challenge with a group of people who have a unifying purpose. We feel connected, even to near-strangers. We achieve more than we thought we were capable of. We transcend boundaries that limit us, as I wrote in this LinkedIn post.

My most recent experience of this was on a cancer charity fund-raising trek on the coast of Wales, a challenge made even more enticing by months of pandemic restrictions. It set me thinking about the parallel with building organisations where everyone thrives and gives their best.

The route was longer than expected and the rugged coastal terrain precipitous in places. Yet we were buoyed up by the huge crowd of fellow hikers, the shared cause, the support of friends and family, the stunning landscape, and knowing we were doing something special. Being part of a greater whole easily outweighed sore legs and feet.

Drawing on this (and on our book INdivisible), here are some tips for cultivating inclusive organisations:

Rally people around a bigger purpose that has meaning for everyone
Give them ways to visualise an outcome where everyone benefits
Signpost the way, warn of pitfalls, have help on hand in case something goes wrong
Measure progress consistently and transparently so everyone knows where they are
Be patient when you encounter hold-ups
Celebrate small steps as well as big breakthroughs
Trust each person to participate in the best way for them

When have you experienced the power of collective action?
What would you add to the list for inclusion at work?

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