Everyday people are excluded in the workplace and social spaces due to their identities and the way we have created norms in our society. These norms have created conscious and unconscious practices that have negatively impacted those who do not meet the criteria for normalcy in every human made social identity. Therefore, we have created barriers to existence, as a result of these barriers there are 4 outcomes that I’d like to highlight:
- Distrust- Populations such as women/womxn, low income, racially stigmatized Identities (People of Color), LGBTQIA+, etc. are more likely to build up walls and barriers when it comes to trusting our co-workers, managers, and leaders in the workplace. These populations are more likely than others to have been offended or mistreated in the workplace and therefore are hesitant to “trust the process” or other people. If you are working to build a diverse team who trust one another, you need to understand the adversity that has been faced by diverse, non-homogenous populations in the workplace. We always want to meet people where they are, and use this saying as if it is the answer to building and establishing strong relationships. Understand, that we don’t want you to unpack our baggage, just handle it with care and don’t put any more items into it!
- Silence- When your employees who have previously expressed concern with an issue or consistently offer you feedback go silent, and say nothing there is a problem! Do not interpret silence as contentment and happiness in this case, something is wrong. People stop talking when they feel like they are not being heard or do not see change happening. In most cases they have started planning, to leave your company, an exodus of sorts is in the works. If this happens there are some tools you need in order to re-engage your people, before they completely disengage from their place of employment.
- Repeating Harmful Behavior- I have been in workplaces where I have witnessed people who have felt disregarded, exercise their power and do the same to others. As a person who was in a director position I would see other directors who felt unheard and mistreated by our executive teams shit on our admin staff, managers, and even program participants. As human beings we learn to label and exhibit positive and negative behaviors. Therefore, we must be mindful of how we treat others and the energy we carry, if not a result will be us getting carried away and continue harming others. Power can turn us into the things we hate, be mindful of the impact of your presence. In these situations I have seen allies turn into oppressors with good intentions.
- Resistance- There are two ways in which resistance as a result of exclusion shows up 1) people detach and do nothing 2) people do something about it! When people feel excluded they detach, usually from the people who made them feel this way and the people who resemble those people. They also will stand up and fight against the thing that created the resistance. We build up protective walls in order to self preserve and we place those walls in spaces where we feel they are necessary. There is also a zero tolerance behavior of — I will not stand up and fight for your rights because it could harm the fight I’m in for mine or my privilege. When people don’t see themselves in the struggle, they immediately will refer to their own struggles. When people always see themselves in a struggle they grow fed up and tired. Interesting enough, both groups can build blinders as a result of their struggles or lack thereof.
Exclusion is easier to achieve than inclusion. This is a result of us building a society based on normalicies and expectations as a result of these efforts. If we want to be more inclusive, we must first identify the root cause of exclusion, the outcomes it has created, who is impacted negatively by our decisions, and then work together to build solutions. Inclusion not easy to achieve, but it is not impossible.