Feeling & Fact: The Value of Inclusion
Ria explores what inclusion means in the most essential way.
A white child with a public school (fee paying) education and a degree from Oxford University degree has a 1 in 200,000 chance of becoming prime minister in the UK.
A black child born in the UK has a 1 in 17 million chance.
(via ‘Diversify’ by June Sarpong)
This is a stat I like to start our inclusion workshops with. Naturally, it has a shock factor. But when we look at it deeper, it’s entirely reflective of the state of equal opportunity in this country, intersectional oppression and where our history as a country is still apparent in the opportunities for young people, even in 2022. The past is never too far away if you look closely enough.
"Inclusion is not accessible to all people"
Inclusion matters. When we have access to opportunities, we’re included in groups, have more access to knowledge and widened support systems, not only is our society more inclusive, but it is living by the concept that everyone deserves an equal chance, at least to try. But of course, we are not here.
Inclusion is not accessible to all people. Inclusion is not just about the way we treat people but by the opportunities we gatekeep and more acutely, where our money can get us.
Inclusion is where fact and feeling meet. When people experience inclusion, they are more engaged, more motivated, more empathetic, more connected, more respectful, more trusting. A quick google search or personal reflection will tell you that much. And in terms of capitalistic output, these are all the ‘soft skills’ that the pandemic made evident to us as necessary in a modern day workforce. There is a raised understanding of the value of belonging, but if we don’t action that understanding, it’s simply wishful thinking.
Think of a time you’ve felt excluded. I imagine you’re recounting an experience at school, as a child, perhaps in the playground being left out of a game or activity. Maybe there was the addition of someone saying something particularly mean on top of that. Or if you haven’t experienced that, re-read that situation with a 6 year old child in mind. Exclusion creates that blue, isolated feeling. We feel less than, we feel unworthy and lonely. And what’s more, when we are that young we look to ourselves as the reason for it. This is where exclusion leads to us being more shut out and shut off individuals. It makes us colder, more impatient, less trusting people. And rightly so. Turning the other cheek is a notion that can end up asking a lot from a person on their 14th or 15th time in the same situation.
Our actions have a huge, ripple like impact. Whether you’re a feelings or fact driven person, however you grow your awareness to the impact of your actions, or lack thereof, please know it matters. If you have the power to create more equal opportunities in your job or network, please do it. Even if you can support someone or advise them to help them access something they couldn’t otherwise, know that this is where inclusion and equality can meet. As someone writing, knowing both sides of what it means to be excluded and appreciated because of my identity, I urge you to consider not only the value of inclusion, but the wider impact of your inclusive actions.