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Fostering Inclusiveness in the Workplace

Volaris Group is a large company comprised of many smaller companies across the world. Within our group we have businesses based in over 30 countries, and we typically see representation from dozens of countries our internal leadership summits. One of the challenges in any organization is ensuring that people feel included and supported.

Best practice sharing is always encouraged throughout Volaris’ global network, and that includes practices regarding inclusivity. We also invite our leaders to attend public events where they can hear from dozens of thought leaders on the subject.

I recently attended the 2019 Women in Technology Conference in London thanks to an invitation from Danielle Weston, Head of Client Services at Kinetic Solutions. The speakers at this event were highly engaging and drove home some important points about workplace inclusiveness and bias.

How to eliminate discrimination in the workplace

The answer to eliminating discrimination is to not tolerate it. As leaders in our organizations we can lead the way with a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination. In a riveting keynote, Karren Brady, the CEO of West Ham Football Club, shared a story from early in her career. While managing her first football club in 1993, a player uttered an inappropriate comment toward her. She immediately sold him to another team. She never had any similar issues from other players after that. 4 years later she led a public offering of the club which sold for £82,000,000.

Inclusion vs. diversity

At the conference, many of the speakers spoke about the importance of focusing on inclusion over diversity. What is the difference between the two? I didn’t really understand it myself until attending the conference. Diversity is about who is being hired and promoted and what characteristics and identities we’re tracking. Inclusion is about how we can welcome and embrace a diversity of characteristics and identities in the workplace. Achieving quotas of people with certain characteristics is not the goal of inclusion, instead, it’s about ensuring everyone feels welcome and supported regardless of their identity. It’s not really that diversity is “out,” but without inclusion, diversity is just a box-checking exercise; to truly foster an equitable environment, inclusion needs to be a part of the equation.

Assess your privilege

Being privileged means having certain advantages over someone else because there is an aspect of your identity that gives you a higher social status. Depending on the environment, your gender, race, education, socioeconomic status and other factors can all impact how people view you. If you are viewed as having high status, it is the perfect opportunity to use this bias to encourage a more inclusive environment. Listening to the stories of marginalized people can help educate business leaders on the prejudice that many people are faced with. Understanding where prejudice may lie can help leaders develop more equitable policies and practices at their company.

There is no standard global measurement for inclusion and bias

One of the conferences’ workshops was about measuring inclusion and bias. The way you think about inclusion varies depending on where you are in the world. Different cultural, economic and social biases that affect different regions means business leaders need to adjust inclusion guidelines to their specific geography. This is a big deal for us, because it means our businesses all over the world need to have a customized plan for inclusion.

Decentralization & Inclusiveness

Through our decentralized business model, companies have the autonomy to make many of their own business decisions. We provide businesses with a platform for change – where leaders can exchange best practices on important matters such as how to be more inclusive.

Companies in our network have access to peers who lead the way with their dedication to fostering an inclusive environment for all. Trapeze Group in the UK and Cultura Technologies are examples of Volaris businesses that have demonstrated thought leadership regarding diversity and inclusivity. In 2018, the companies partnered with the Inclusive Tech Alliance, a membership body dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the UK tech sector.

About the Author

Mark Miller is the Global CEO of Volaris Group and Trapeze Group. In addition, Mark is the COO at Constellation Software – Volaris Group’s parent company. He began his career as a software developer and it was during that time that he co-founded Trapeze Group in 1995. Mark has a passion for software technology and building innovative businesses that last forever. His goal is to help intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs surround themselves with a great team so that they can be leaders in their industries.

Profile Photo of Mark Miller