What does Inclusion mean to me?
Growing up, I can remember my dad constantly quoting two things to me: “Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness” and “the truth isn’t on the left or the right, it is usually somewhere in the middle”.
Now he never used the two in conjunction with one another, but as I have progressed through my career, I have learned, for me, that these two are connected. Dad always used the “greatest strength” quote to remember don’t get too comfortable in your own shoes. When you think you have things figured out, that is when you should ask, what am I missing. Early in my career I would feel very confident in a decision “because I new the answer” and sure enough come to find out, I hadn’t asked the right questions, which leads me to the “truth” quote.
Whether we realize it or not, we are all biased to some degree. It could be educational, cultural, and inexperienced. If we are looking at things for only one or similar perspectives, we may not be making a fully informed decision. The expression of birds of a feather tend to flock to together. It is easy to be drawn to those individuals that are like minded. It is a very easy connection. I like this kind or music and so do they. I like the sport or movie and so do they. The conversation is easy. You are passionate about the same thing.
However, when assessing a business issue or looking at process, seeing only one side may mean you miss something that could dramatically affect the outcome. As my career has progressed I have found it extremely important to make sure I have individuals on my team, or that I consult with those that have different points of view. Just as important though, make sure those individuals know that they are in a safe environment where they will be heard and respected. For teams it easy for the dissenting opinion to get overlooked or go unspoken, so it is critical to provide an environment where their points are easily conveyed.
All this brings me to inclusion. If we understand that sometimes we may not know everything, and it may be a good idea to include varying thought processes, then it is easy to realize the more inclusive and diversity we are as a team and company, the better we are at whatever our goal is. At Ericsson especially, I have found that by building teams of varying opinions and giving them forum with which to present their ideas, the whole team wins. Somewhere in the middle is always the best answer.
Seek out varying opinions today, be open minded and experience the enlightenment you may gain.