INFORMATION Creating an inclusive culture By Marsha Ramroop (pictured), Founder Director, Unheard Voice Consultancy

In 1990 the Harvard Business Review published From Affirmative Action to Affirming Diversity in which it stated, “In business terms, a diverse work force is not something your company ought to have; it’s something your company does have… Learning to manage that diversity will make you more competitive”. That was 30 years ago. Since

then, hundreds of reports have made the “business case” for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). If you’re still in need of the “business case”, you’re essentially asking under-represented people to justify their existence in modern British business life. The “business case” was made

long ago, so what’s stopping you? Financially and politically it makes sense. I need you to consider whether you and your organisation have made the leap morally and psychologically. In the first of a trilogy of articles,

I pose three questions and answers to help move from knowing why D&I is important and what needs to be done, to how you make the leap.

PART ONE: HOW DO YOU CREATE AN INCLUSIVE ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE? ‘Culture’ is often used when describing what needs to change when steering any business to becoming more diverse and inclusive. What has been missing is an understanding of what is meant when ‘culture change’ is mentioned. Diversity is the mix of visible and

invisible difference. We often talk about race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, disability, marital status… but this list is not limited to the Protected Characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 – it’s not exhaustive, it includes neurodiversity, socio-economic background, non-graduates, etc. Diverse is not something others are, we’re all part of diversity. Inclusion is the culture where

people feel their different perspectives, styles and needs are respected, valued and taken into account. Even when that difference feels

unpalatable to you, inclusion means you respect the difference. So, what is culture? In some

cases, we hear it’s a shared system of values and beliefs. The clearest definition I’ve found

is: Culture is what is ‘acceptable and familiar’.

The crux is that what’s

acceptable and familiar to me, may not be to you. To be inclusive, we have to realise what is acceptable and familiar to another is not wrong; it’s simply a different perspective. Many are brought up to believe

‘treat others as you wish to be treated’, but this needs to be revised, and in creating a Culture of Inclusion, we have to ‘treat others as they wish to be treated’. How do you know how to do

that? This is why you need Cultural

Intelligence (CQ™). Q stands for quotient, because as well as a skill, CQ™ is a measurement. Cultural Intelligence is the capability to work effectively with people different from you. To create an inclusive

organisational culture, CQ™ has four capabilities you need to look at, at different levels – as an individual, as departments and as a business.

CQ Drive Your level of interest, persistence and confidence during multicultural interactions: You first have to identify what

you consider to be acceptable and familiar. Then, how motivated are you to think differently about other people’s view of acceptable and familiar?

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CQ Knowledge Your understanding about how cultures are similar and different: What do you need to know in order to respect and value the difference? How do you ensure everyone has access to this information as you gather it?

CQ Strategy Your awareness and ability to plan for multicultural interactions: How do you plan for your interactions with others? What time do you give staff for adjustment? How do you check your assumptions?

CQ Action Your ability to adapt when relating and working in multicultural contexts: How do you put these into

action? Can people openly provide feedback calling out issues and biases?

To learn more about the academic research behind CQ, visit In the next article we’ll look at how to embed a change to Inclusion.

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