How to Create a Deeply Inclusive Culture

Published:

October 31, 2022

Length:

34:40

Available On

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Show Notes
How do you create a deeply inclusive environment? (1:15) Tim explains that there's a process and a sequence, and it starts with a focus on your values and beliefs. Once you lay the foundation, you can focus on behaviors and skills, then policies and procedures. In essence, you need to advocate for humanity over human characteristics. 

What are junk theories of superiority? (8:00) To create deeply inclusive cultures, we have to eliminate biases and preferences towards certain characteristics, which ultimately create exclusion. 

The four stages of psychological safety build inclusive cultures (10:33). As a function of respect and permission, the foundation of psychological safety is inclusion. We want to know that we belong. 

Inclusion is a human right (20:45). You shouldn't need to think about it. It's a safety that isn't earned, it's owed. 

How to create a culturally flat organization (27:15). Regardless of position, title, or authority, you should be allowed to contribute, participate, and create value. 
Episode Transcript

0:00:02.3 Producer: Hey, Culture by Design listeners, welcome back. It's Freddie, one of the producers of the podcast. Today's episode is a recording of an event we did last May. Now before I get into the details of this episode, I want to invite you to our upcoming live webinar on November 17th. You can find the details to this event on this episode's show notes. The event will be titled Hiring, Firing, and Promotion with Psychological Safety. Hope you can attend. Today's episode will focus on inclusion. Why do humans justify excluding each other? What is a junk theory of superiority? And how do we create deeply inclusive cultures through psychological safety? Because this event was previously recorded, we've gone ahead and cut out some of the introduction and some of the live polling that happened during the event. At the end of the episode, Junior is about to mention resources available to help you learn more about psychological safety. We've included all of those resources at leaderfactor.com/resources. Thanks for listening and thank you for your views. Enjoy today's episode.

0:01:12.0 Junior: So Tim, we'll go ahead and just jump right into it and talk about inclusion.

0:01:16.9 Tim: We're going to jump right in and we're going to talk about inclusion. How do you create a deeply inclusive environment? Well, there's a process and there's an order of operations. In other words, the sequence matters. You can't do things in any old order that you want to. You really got to begin with first things first. And so step one is to focus on your values and your beliefs. If you don't focus on that, if you don't clarify your values and beliefs, what happens? If you just go headlong into this or you try to skip to behaviors and skills, how do you govern your behaviors and skills? How do you figure out what you stand for and what you don't? How do you figure out what's acceptable and what's not? How do you decide how you're going to be inclusive, how you're going to be able to create that? So we start with values and skills, step one. We start with values and beliefs rather than we go to step two, which is behaviors and skills. Then step three is policies and procedures. And then finally, step four is structure, process and systems. Now that's a lot.

0:02:23.4 Tim: That's the whole roadmap. And we're not going to be able to tackle all of that today. We're going to focus on step one, values and beliefs. That's going to be our primary focus today, right, Junior? That's right. So let's jump in and we're going to invoke the incredible work of the great African-American reformer Frederick Douglass. He made a statement. He gave a speech in 1869 called the Composite Society speech in Boston, 1869. And in that speech, he made a very important statement. He said, I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity. Now what does that mean and why is that important? Well, what he was advocating for in the speech was the Chinese immigrants be granted citizenship in the United States. And so he's giving us a logic for what we call our hierarchy of loyalties. So we have different things to be loyal to as human beings. Well, what's at the top, what comes first, and then what comes after that? That's the question that he answered in his statement. He gave us a hierarchy of loyalties and he said humanity first and then other human characteristics come second.

0:03:54.7 Tim: So you could do it that way, or you could say certain human characteristics first and then humanity second. So humanity is subordinated to human characteristics. Well, you've got to take a point of view, you've got to take a position, you've got to take a stand. What is going to be your hierarchy of loyalties? What's going to come first and what's going to come second? Is humanity going to come first or are human characteristics going to come first? So Junior, maybe talk a little bit about this slide and what it represents.

0:04:36.2 Junior: I want to take a second and just acknowledge the profundity of that quote. We go pretty quickly through this piece of the webinar, but that could deserve an entire hour just talking about that quote. If you think about the context in which he was speaking, it is truly an amazing quote. So let me say it again.

0:04:58.2 Tim: Yeah, let me say it again, Junior. He said, I know of no rights of race, race is a human characteristic that are superior to the rights of humanity.

0:05:11.3 Junior: Yeah, I love that. So here you've got some of the human characteristics that we talk about, okay, that he may have been referring to. We've tried to spell these out a little bit. We've got age, ancestry, association, generation, living status, physical appearance, religious affiliation, social status, wealth is very, very, very interesting. And the tendency of many of us is to go right to these, right? That's the first thing we think about instead of looking right at the person and acknowledging our common humanity. So do you see these? Are we crazy or do we see these types of human characteristics being used for prejudgment all the time? Go ahead and put it in the chat if you see these. Wow, this brings it home. Liza, yes, absolutely. All the time. Carol, yes, absolutely. All of them. Very, very interesting. This happens all the time. So this to me, as we were preparing for the webinar was really this interesting fork in the road, and it's really the highest piece of upstream logic that I could imagine is this first fork in the road. It's the very first thing that we're met with when we meet another person, when we're interacting with another person is which road do we go down?

0:06:32.9 Junior: Is it humanity or is it human characteristics and which comes first? Which comes first? You've got to have a premise. Now let's turn that around, right, Junior? Yep. Okay, so here we go. Here's the next one. Okay. So we flipped where we're going human characteristics first, humanity second. Okay. And that's the opportunity. Think of the last five times you interacted with someone. Okay. That was probably within the last 24 hours. And how did you look at that person? Did you look first at human characteristics and then decide how you were going to treat them? Or did you look first at the fact that they are human? And that's something that we all share. I know that we've been on both sides of this every, I mean, all of us forever. We've sometimes made the incorrect choice, I'm sure. And there are many times where we make the correct choice and it makes a massive difference. And you have to realize that the context of this piece of the discussion is inside the topic of how to create inclusion. And this is really the crux of the issue. How do you create inclusion? You first treat people as humans and not human characteristics.

0:07:41.5 Junior: That is really the crux of the issue. And the gold nugget for today, it's the takeaway. If you take nothing else away from this webinar, take away that fact that you have an opportunity to go first to humanity or human characteristics when you're dealing with another person. And if you go to human characteristics off the bat, we've already lost. It's game over.

0:08:02.2 Junior: We need to go to humanity to promote inclusion.

0:08:06.9 Tim: Yeah, we really do. So if you get it backwards, as you say, then you're on a slippery slope. Okay. So we label this. If you put human characteristics first, we call it a junk theory of superiority. Here's the definition. A junk theory of superiority is an attempt to justify loyalty to a human characteristic above that of the human family. So to create a deeply inclusive culture, we must subordinate human characteristics to the importance of the human family. So the human family comes first, humanity comes first, and then the characteristics. But if we try to invoke some theory of superiority based on human characteristics, is that not a junk theory? Is that not illegitimate? So that's something that I think we need to ponder. I think we've all been a part of that. We've seen it. Perhaps we've done it ourselves, right? And we've seen the exclusion that that can create in organizations. All right, now let's transition to the topic of psychological safety, which is related. Let's talk about how it is related. So what is psychological safety? There's exploding interest in psychological safety around the world.

0:09:32.7 Tim: Well, what does this have to do with building a deeply inclusive culture? Well, a great deal, actually. So let's define this term that we call psychological safety. Psychological safety is an environment of rewarded vulnerability. Now you've got to think about that for a minute. Your vulnerability will be rewarded, not punished. Your human characteristics, your demographics, and your psychographics will be rewarded, not punished. If they're punished, then of course, we can't get to inclusion. So psychological safety is fundamental to creating an inclusive environment. Let me just walk through the way that psychological safety works because it progresses through four stages. And for those of you who have not read the book, The Four Stages of Psychological Safety, I'm just going to give you a quick overview of how this works. So psychological safety is a function of respect, which you see on the vertical axis, and permission, which you see on the horizontal axis. The first stage of psychological safety, the foundation is what we call inclusion safety. Inclusion safety means that you feel included. You feel accepted, and you have a sense of belonging. That's the foundation. If we don't put the foundation in place, we're never going to achieve a deeply inclusive culture and we're not going to be able to sustain it.

0:11:08.6 Tim: So we begin there. And the reason we begin there is because based on our global survey research, 92% of human beings across the world, they have told us that they want to be included first. That's the first need that they want to satisfy. So they're concerned about having inclusion safety. Then we move to stage two, which is learner safety, which means that you can learn without fear of being embarrassed or marginalized or belittled or harshly criticized. So you can learn in a safe environment. And then we go to stage three, which is contributor safety. Contributor safety builds on learner safety and inclusion safety. So I'm going to take everything that I've learned, all my skills and knowledge and experience, and now I have the opportunity to contribute something meaningful. I have the opportunity to make a difference, to do my part. And that's what human beings want to do. They want to make a difference. They want to do their part. They want to contribute at stage three. And then finally, we go to stage four, challenger safety. Challenger safety means that you feel free to challenge the status quo. You feel safe to challenge the status quo without fear of retaliation or retribution.

0:12:34.1 Tim: So what you'll notice is that as you're moving through the four stages of psychological safety, you're climbing a ladder of vulnerability, your level of personal exposure and risk is getting higher as you go from stage to stage. So with that framework in mind, our focus today is the stage one, inclusion safety. How do we create inclusion safety as the foundation and then sustain that type of working environment, that type of climate, that type of atmosphere in the organization? It's not easy because inclusion, as you know, is delicate. It's perishable. It's not permanent. Okay. Junior, let's do a polling question. I want to go back and let's actually do the first polling question. Can we bring that down?

0:13:29.1 Junior: Let's bring it down. Yeah. Okay. So I've gone ahead and launched this. Question one is creating a deeply inclusive culture, a major priority for your organization. Yes or no. If you see the poll, go ahead and respond to it on your screen. If you're joining us from another social platform, go ahead and put it in the chat. If you'd like, you don't have to. You're welcome to. If you're enjoying the webinar so far, go ahead and give a like to the stream. If you're on LinkedIn or YouTube or Facebook, we really enjoy having you all together today. I'm going to leave this up for about five more seconds and then we'll close it out. One of the great things about having webinars like this is we get some good data, don't we, Tim? Yeah, we do. We get a lot of responses. It's interesting for everyone to be able to see what everyone else thinks. Okay. I'm going to go ahead and close this out and I'm going to go ahead and share the results with you. So we have 74% yes, 26% no. That doesn't include all of the responses across all platforms, but we've got quite a few here.

0:14:29.9 Junior: So that's interesting. What do you think about that, Tim? What do you make of that?

0:14:33.1 Tim: Well, it's three out of four that are pursuing it as a major priority. That's an overwhelming number. Three out of four organizations are pursuing it. So it is not just on the radar screen. It's a priority.

0:14:47.5 Junior: I think it's interesting to think about the potential results of asking this question a decade ago. Even five years ago or two years ago, I think that the ratio would have been a little bit different, don't you?

0:15:00.4 Tim: I do. I think the pandemic has really accelerated and expedited this. Yeah. Let's go to the next polling question, Junior. Let's bring that one down.

0:15:08.1 Junior: Okay. So this one of the following characteristics, which one do you think we as humans use the most to exclude age, gender, education, nationality, political affiliation, race or ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic status? So again, we'll leave this one open probably for the next 15 seconds or so. Please respond so we can get as much data as possible. And then we will share the results with you. So go ahead and comment your selection if you're not inside Zoom. This is fascinating. It sure is. Age, gender, education, nationality, political affiliation, race and ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status. So we have eight options. And I think by the way, let me just say this.

0:15:58.6 Tim: Nicole was just pointing out that it does not include disability. That's very true. We cannot include every demographic or psychographic as response categories. And we apologize for that.

0:16:12.3 Junior: Yeah. This is not exhaustive.

0:16:13.8 Tim: It's not exhaustive. And it's not, we can't do all of it.

0:16:17.4 Junior: Yeah. Brian, it doesn't include baldness. You're right. Very true. Thank you. Tim, I put that one on there. Tim asked me to take it off. Yeah. Okay. Let's go ahead and close this one out and I will share the results with you. Okay. So you can see we have a clear winner, if you can use the word. Race and ethnicity had the most responses at 43%. Second was socioeconomic status at 25%. So of course, as we said, this is not an exhaustive list, but of the eight that we gave, race and socioeconomic status accounted for 68% of responses. The next one past that was age at 10%, gender at 10%, education, nationality at 3%, political affiliation at 4%. I would have thought that political affiliation would have been a little bit higher on the list. You know, religion 3%. So really we have these two that are far and away past the others, race and socioeconomic status.

0:17:23.2 Tim: And by the way, these are the eight top demographics that we measure in most studies. And so if we didn't include a demographic that's important to you, we apologize for that. These are just the top eight that we normally measure in empirical research. So we thought we'd get, we'd solicit your feedback on this. The distribution is quite interesting. Jan says race because it's the easiest to see.

0:17:49.2 Junior: And I think that that some of you are commenting that about, you know, my question about political affiliation. I think you're probably right on. Yeah, you're probably right. It's very easy. It's very immediate. It's very obvious. Yeah.

0:18:03.1 Tim: That's a good point. Yeah. Okay. Fantastic. Okay. Let's go to the third polling question, Junior. And I think this one is interesting. This one is using a 10 point scale where one is low and 10 is high. What overall level of inclusion safety do you feel in your organization?

0:18:23.0 Junior: And if you're on a social and you're commenting, you can just comment how most people might feel, how you think most people feel, what level of inclusion, if you don't want to put your own. Okay. This distribution is pretty interesting. We'll leave this one open for a few more seconds.

0:18:42.1 Tim: Yeah. Yeah. We'd love to hear from you on this. And by the way, your responses are anonymous. We're just aggregating the data. We're just putting it together. So we'd love to hear from you.

0:18:51.9 Junior: Okay. Let's go ahead and end this one. So get your response in in the next two seconds and poll and share results. Okay. Okay. Eight was the most with 18%. Okay. And so it looks like our distribution is centering around six and seven. Four percent of you said one. Four percent said two, three percent said, or eight percent said three and 11% said four. So that bottom quartile is kind of interesting, Tim. At first glance, you may not think that it's that interesting, but that's quite a big percentage that's in the bottom, you know, the first four responses.

0:19:37.2 Tim: Well, it is. And the fact that it's a wide distribution, it just shows us that we've got quite a bit of work to do, don't we? Yeah. Yeah, we really do. Okay. So coming back to stage one, which is the foundation for creating inclusion, inclusion safety that is, here's the fuller definition of the stage. Inclusion safety satisfies the basic human need to be included, accepted and belong. It means it's not expensive to be yourself. You're accepted for who you are, including your unique attributes and defining characteristics, right? We've been talking about that. So then if we're trying to create an inclusive environment and inclusive culture, how do we do that? What are the terms of engagement? Well, there's a social exchange that has to take place. It's actually pretty simple. The team grants you inclusion, whatever your social collective or social unit or organization, whatever it is, the team grants you inclusion in exchange for your human status and for you not presenting the team with a threat of harm. That's it. It's pretty simple. And so if we summarize stage one, inclusion safety, it's a human right. It's not something that you earn. It's something that you're owed.

0:21:00.9 Tim: If you're human and harmless, then we're morally obligated to include you into our society. So including another human being should be an act of prejudgment based on that person's worth. So I don't need to think about it. It's a prejudice. It's prejudicial in a good way, right? So I'm prejudging. I already know what the answer is. So I don't have, it's not an act of judgment based on my opinion of your worthiness, based on some human characteristics that I choose to apply to you in a worthiness test, right? So we're saying apply a worth test, not a worthiness test to each other in order to create a deeply inclusive culture. So-Tim? Yeah.

0:21:54.1 Junior: Quick question from LinkedIn. What do you mean by expensive?

0:21:58.9 Tim: That's a good question. Expensive means socially, emotionally, psychologically, politically, maybe even economically expensive to be yourself. Now we all have to judge that, it's a matter of judgment. It's the way that we feel. We're always doing threat detection when we're with other people to understand if we think we're in a safe or an unsafe place. If we perceive that it's expensive in one or a combination of those ways, and it is based on perception and judgment, then what do we do? We change our behavior and chances are we will withdraw, retreat, recoil. That's normally what humans do, right?

0:22:40.1 Junior: Yep. There are a couple other questions in the chat about what we mean by harmless. So Tanya asks, if you're human and harmless, is this a loaded statement? If you look at it from a certain perspective, it absolutely is. Every human has the potential to inflict harm, all of us, right? And that harm could go into any of those categories of expense that Tim just mentioned, right? And so when we say harmless, we're trying to say that we don't have, that we're not presenting people with harm.

0:23:15.3 Junior: Do we have the capacity to do that? Yeah, we all do. But if we are human-Not deliberately. Yeah, we're not deliberately. If we're human and we're not presenting you with harm, then the moral obligation is to include.

0:23:28.6 Tim: Yeah. So the governing principle here is that worth precedes worthiness and that we should apply a worth test to each other based on humanity, right? Going back to our hierarchy of loyalties. So the worth precedes worthiness. If we apply a worthiness test to each other, on what basis, on what grounds are we doing it? And which of those human characteristics are we invoking to create our worthiness test? And how does it stand up? It's pretty hard, right? So worth preceding worthiness has to be the governing principle. Now let's talk a little bit about a case study. It's a little bit humorous, at least in terms of the language, but it's not really that humorous I guess in reality. So we worked with a very large multinational construction company and the company developed this culture, a siloed culture. Well it was actually stratified. So instead of these vertical silos, they had this stratification of managers and they called, this is their terminology, it's not mine. They called the managers cell phones and the production personnel, the men and women that actually did the production, they called them tool belts. I don't know where the terms originated. I don't know for sure, but they would call each other that.

0:25:03.2 Tim: So the tool belts would call the managers cell phones and the cell phones would call the production people tool belts. Now were those terms of endearment? Probably not, probably disparaging terms. But it was interesting that the stratification between those who were called cell phones and those who were called tool belts, it became pretty deep. It became a pretty deep division and it became a cultural fault line. And they would avoid talking to each other, even though they needed to coordinate. And even though there were obviously reporting relationships and a division of labor and roles and responsibilities and all of those things associated with it, they're developed, I guess what I would call some acrimony and some animosity and even some hostility between these two groups in this stratification. So the cell phones ended up not liking the tool belts and the tool belts ended up not liking the cell phones. Not uncommon, right? It's just another way to divide. It's another basis on which to create a division. So it happens a lot. But I thought this was an interesting example. Now let's think about this example in the context of our hierarchy of loyalties. So on what basis are they dividing?

0:26:37.2 Tim: On what basis has this division grown up? What are we talking about here? Why are they doing this? So these are human characteristics. Could be positional, could be occupational, could be the perception of socioeconomic status. And so this us versus them division emerged gradually and then it kind of hardened and it became calcified and it became a barrier to performance and a barrier to inclusion, right? So what we're saying is that if in the hierarchy of loyalties, if humanity comes to the top, if that's our premise, then what we're going to try to do is to create a culturally flat organization, regardless then of your position or your title or your authority or any other artifact that the organization may give you or that others may give you. That may still be there, but culturally you're going to try to create a flat organization. Junior, any comments coming in or?

0:27:49.6 Junior: Yeah, there are quite a few that are really interesting. It looks like a lot of people have seen this type of terminology used for a very long time. Suits versus hands, white and blue collar, white hats. So it's this us versus them mentality at its very core and humans have done this for as long as humans have been around and inclusion suffers so fast. Another important point that's coming from the chat is language is important. These types of things matter. And so if you let these types of things creep into your language and creep into your organization, you'll pay for it over the long term in culture. And these are types of cultural artifacts that are difficult to pull back. They are. Once that type of language gets embedded into a culture, very, very difficult to turn the ship around.

0:28:46.6 Tim: Junior, it reminds me of the statement that words create worlds. Sure do. And we have to be very careful about that. We really do. And sometimes those words become hurtful or exclusionary and we need to try to understand and recognize that and we need to change that if that's happening. And we need to monitor our own language. That's something that we can all do because sometimes we may unwittingly participate in some of this. Yeah, it's really true. It's really true. So here's a tendency, right? Based on our discussion today, we have a tendency to govern ourselves based on junk theories of superiority. I'll bet every single one of us has done this. So we invoke superiority based on some human characteristics and that creates division. We try to elevate ourselves and we try to subordinate others. Happens all the time. There's work to do. We can do better. And I would say that we all need to hold up a mirror and hopefully it's a very clean mirror and we need to ask ourselves how we can improve. And then we need to go to work and help our institutions and we need to have a sensitivity about this, don't we?

0:30:04.4 Tim: It really does help if your hierarchy of loyalties is clear and if you're putting humanity first and we go back to that statement by Frederick Douglass, because that really is the premise. If you're going first to human characteristics, it's going to be difficult. We're going to create divisions, right? Okay. So with that, let me just go back to the inclusive culture roadmap. So what we've done today is to focus on step one, values and beliefs and ask ourselves, so what's the starting point? What's the premise? What's the point of departure? How do we begin this journey? Values and beliefs rather is a placeholder, but what do we put there? And what we're saying is what we would suggest is that we put humanity there at the top of the hierarchy of loyalties. And if we do that, I think we have a chance to be very successful and we have a chance to start removing a lot of the obstacles that are getting in the way that are creating divisions right now. Now as we close or this portion of the webinar, let's just move a little bit to step two, values and skills. Now we're not going to spend a lot of time, but it's more of a parting thought.

0:31:27.7 Tim: And that is you have two levers at your disposal as you're interacting with others. You have your modeling behavior and your coaching behavior. And I'm not even suggesting that you need to be in a formal managerial role. You could be an independent contributor. You could be in a technical role. It doesn't matter. You're still modeling and you're still coaching. And so, as I like to say, when it comes to creating a culture of inclusion and a culture of high psychological safety, you're either leading the way or getting in the way. You can't be neutral. You can't be a neutral party because you are modeling certain behavioral norms, which are a reflection of your values and beliefs. The only question is which ones are they? And did you put humanity at the top of the hierarchy of loyalties or did you put some other human characteristics at the top so that you could subordinate certain groups or certain characteristics? So hopefully that's helpful to you. You always have these two levers, your modeling behavior and then the way that you coach and interact with others. Junior, any comment or any observations? Yeah, I just want to echo the first point again.

0:32:50.1 Junior: I know I've harped on this a couple of times, but that first piece about the hierarchy is so, so important that humans come first, human characteristics later. So please think about that as you interact for the rest of the day, the rest of the weekend, ideally forever, but we forget things pretty quickly. Try it though deliberately for a period of 24 hours, 48 hours when you're at a restaurant, when you're in an Uber, when you're talking to your coworker, look at them as humans and look at the commonality. Look at all of the ground that we share first. If we all do that, holy smokes, inclusion will increase. It's inevitable. And so I really want to double click on that. So Tim, anything else before we transition to a couple of the resources? No, let's transition.

0:33:49.9 Producer: Hey Culture by Design listeners, you made it to the end of today's episode. Thank you again for listening and for making culture something that you do by design and not by default. If you've enjoyed today's episode, please be so kind to leave us a review. It helps us reach a wider audience and accomplish our mission of influencing the world for good at scale.

0:34:13.2 Producer: Today's episode show notes and other relevant resources related to today's topic can be found at leaderfactor.com/resources. And with that, we'll see you next episode.

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