Exclusion includes most of us
By Kym Clark
Ever started a new job and felt insecure, unsure, unwelcomed or an outcast? Usually after a couple of months those feelings start to wear off and you feel like you’ve been part of the team all along, but for some, the feeling never goes away.
Many people will experience social exclusion at school, at work, in a sports team or maybe even at home. Individuals across the globe are singled out every day in job recruitment or selection processes, meetings and team building exercises, and even as far as losing a promotion due to stigma and discrimination in some cases.
When we make assumptions about an individual’s culture, age group, gender, nationality or background, we can subconsciously (or consciously) single them out or label them as different, dangerous or strange. This is what we call social exclusion and a form of bullying.
With so few women in the mining and construction industry, there’s a strong chance that colleagues are experiencing social exclusion at work right now. If this is you, then this coming week is for you! Social Inclusion Week kicks off on November 19 and presents an opportunity to promote diversity and inclusion within the workplace.
It aims to help Aussies feel valued, and to give everyone the opportunity to participate fully in society. It’s about connecting with local communities, work mates, family and friends to build relationships and networks, and addressing isolation and exclusion by supporting people who may be unable help themselves.
Embracing multiculturalism, disabilities and differences will go a long way to helping colleagues feel included. Depending where you work, this could be as simple as participating in current initiatives, or require a full culture overhaul. A great workplace doesn’t just happen overnight, it has to be worked at and maintained by individuals top down.
Successful and positive workplaces breed strong cultures by constantly building relationships with all individuals on a day-to-day basis. Here’s what you can do this week to kick start inclusion in your workplace:
- Invite a colleague to join you at lunch
- Ask a colleague for their opinion
- Organise a team bonding activity
- Take a coffee break if you see a colleague in the staff room and make conversation
- Talk up the qualities of a colleague to your supervisor and encourage recognition
- Start an employee awards program
If you’ve ever had someone reach out when you felt excluded, you will know how amazing that feeling is. Let’s use this week as a reminder to make someone we work with feel included.
Kym is the founder of She’s Empowered, offering industrial workwear for women Australia-wide. She is an entrepreneur, award winner, speaker, resource sector employee and advocate for inclusion and diversity in the workplace.