• Thrive Inc.


As people begin to go back to work, we need to renew our focus on integrating inclusion into our businesses and teams to make the workplace more comfortable for each person in it. Even if you have what looks like a diverse team, you may still have exclusive behaviors.

When people are excluded, they become less productive, efficient and are much more likely to quit. From a business perspective, you want to encourage inclusivity among your team to build loyalty and engage people’s hearts.

We want inclusion to become an integrative part of business models and not an additive attempt. That way, from one business and team to the next, we can effect sustainable changes. From heart to bottom line, inclusion improves it all.

In this episode, learn how biases and exclusivity manifest in the workplace and the very real impact these microaggressions can have. Discover how you can foster an inclusive environment that makes everyone feel valued and how to encourage your team members to contribute to this mindset shift as well.

If you’d like us to speak at your organization about conflict, stress, team-building, or leadership, work with your team virtually, or coach you or leaders on your team, reach out to us!

If you enjoyed the show, please share the podcast with your family and friends, or post a five-star review on iTunes. Rating and reviewing the show helps spread the word, which means less friction and suffering for everyone, and who doesn’t want that?

Listen on Apple Podcast | Stitcher | Spotify

Learn More:

  • How microaggressions affect the workplace.

  • Why going back to work feels difficult for people from a variety of backgrounds.

  • How the feelings of exclusion and inclusion feel in the brain.

  • The business case for inclusivity.

  • How bias and assumptions among team members manifest.

  • How to train your brain for inclusion.

  • How to work across boundaries and learn to work with people that are different than you.


Full Transcript:

Susan: Welcome to The Beauty of Conflict, a podcast about how to deal with conflict at work, at home and everywhere else in your life. I am Susan.

CrisMarie: And I'm CrisMarie.

Susan: We run a company called Thrive Inc, and we specialize in conflict resolution, stress management coaching and building strong, thriving teams and relationships both in person and virtually.

CrisMarie: On this podcast we’ll be sharing tips, tools about how to make your team, your relationship and even you work more effectively. You can find us at thriveinc.com, that’s www.t.h.r.i.v.e.i.n.c.com or follow us on LinkedIn at Thrive Inc. We hope you enjoy this episode.

Susan: Hi. I’m Susan Clarke.

CrisMarie: And I’m CrisMarie Campbell.

Susan: And we are here today, we’re going to be talking to you about inclusion, specifically inclusion at work. And part of why we’re doing that is because CrisMarie has been involved in a training program. Can you tell me?

CrisMarie: Yes. It’s the IBI which is the Inclusive Behavioral Inventory. It’s an assessment to look at inclusive behaviors at work and help build them in individual leaders, in teams and in organizations. And it was offered by UC Berkeley.

Susan: So she took this program and I was feeling a touch excluded. So I thought how can I be included? So I said, “What a better way for me to learn than to actually be with you, interviewing you, talking to you a bit about some of the key things you took away.” And so we thought we’d do that today as part of our podcast.

CrisMarie: I just have to say, when you said, “I wanted to be included.” It sounds like a little kid. And I think that’s something that exclusion, feeling excluded does hit us at a very core deep and can be younger level of what we’ve experienced as exclusive.

Susan: I totally agree. And I also think a lot of times people are – we’ve become so sophisticated and yet inside we may actually maybe just that little kid who felt like I’m not a part of it and it’s a big factor in this.

CrisMarie: Yeah, it is true. So your context of what you grew up with, whether you’re otherly abled, of a different race, of a different gender, impacts how this topics lands for you.

Susan: Even today, as I was reading the newspaper, then there’s a lot of talk about coming back to work and things like that. And there was an article. I don’t remember whether it was in The New York Times or The Washington, yeah, it could have been. Anyway, I was reading the paper.

CrisMarie: She reads a lot of papers.

Susan: And there was an article about how, especially for people of color, people that have disabilities, various, women. They are the people who are saying they don’t necessarily want to come back and the reason is because of the micro aggressions that they have to deal with at work all the time. And those don’t do their best. So I’m actually kind of sad and my heart goes out. I guess I’ve read a few times how for people who are Black; people want to touch their hair. I can’t even imagine, but I get it. I’ve read it enough now that I know, it’s something that happens.

Also then for people with handicaps and they may have issues around how the building is set up. It’s a lot more work for them to come back into that space. And a lot of times that’s never even considered with how the layout is or a design is. And then for women there’s all sorts of things around micro aggressions that show up.

But what I thought was really interesting was they also talked about how a lot of times I may assume somebody who is Asian or somebody of color, I don’t really remember their name and you look a lot like somebody else. And it’s so insulting for someone to be just, to have that thrown at them.

CrisMarie: To be called the wrong name because they look similar in that person’s eyes.

Susan: Yes. But on screens, whether it’s Teams, or Zoom, or Google Meets, you have their names and so that hasn’t been happening. That was one I had just really of course not thought of.

CrisMarie: Even with the disabled, if somebody’s in a wheelchair, you’re always lower than and on Zoom everybody’s the same height. Or even a woman who may be of smaller stature, she doesn’t have the huge presence when she comes into the room because of her size possibly. That’s all equalized on Zoom as well.

Susan: Yeah. It was fascinating to me some of the things that came up and again all of those things to some degree have to do with inclusion.

CrisMarie: Absolutely they have to do with inclusion. And what was interesting, this was done by the Robertson International House and it’s really in the United States, inclusion, diversity is such a hot topic. And it can be black and white, and now Asian, it’s very polarized with these different races. But what I really got in a part of this training is diversity is important all over the world, even if you have what looks like a diverse team, and we have experienced this, you can still have exclusionary behaviors. And this comes up a lot Susan in our work in even helping teams deal with conflict.

A lot of times what’s happening in a team is only a few people are talking. They’re automatically excluding others. And our job is to actually bring those voices in, help people get curious and interested in these other opinions, whether they’re coming from a Black woman, or an Asian man or anybody, it could be a power differential that they’re not letting these voices be heard and utilizing them.

Susan: Yeah. And so many different ways, I know when I first started this past year with the video camera on.

CrisMarie: Are you meaning Zoom meetings?

Susan: In Zoom meetings, Teams meetings, whatever, the camera’s on and I would have so much judgment about somebody who wouldn’t show up on the camera. I admit, I was like, “Well, why aren’t they showing up?” I had been in one board meeting for almost a year because it was distant. And I just figured she’s not showing up, I know her, my assumptions. And I was amazed when I actually started to get some information.

And some people were like, “No, the reason I don’t put on my camera is because I’m in a situation, I’m in my closet. And I actually don’t want people to know I’m doing this from my closet”, or very different reasons.

CrisMarie: Yeah. This is before virtual backgrounds became popular.

Susan: Yeah. And I even started to understand, I make an assumption that seeing somebody’s face or seeing somebody’s eyes is really important because then I know they’re paying attention, which one thing I’ve learned that’s not necessarily true either. But I also know that for some people that is too much information coming in. And they don’t actually want to see themselves on the screen. And I just was amazed at even that, what is behind it and how easy I can jump to my own conclusions which I think is a big part of this inclusion thing, but we’ll talk about that.

CrisMarie: Yeah. And one of the things, they were saying that exclusive behaviors, feeling excluded actually registers in the brain the same way that pain does, physical pain, so feeling excluded. And that’s why shunning people in older cultures, the person would be shunned. And that was the worst because people would ignore them as if they didn’t exist.

Susan: I mean I just think back to the days. So when I was in my high school I was the one white person in an all Black high school. And I would often get beaten up. I had a lot of people really angry at me. We don’t even need to go into that. But I always was, people would say to me, “Was that difficult?” And I’m like, that was nothing, nothing compared to what I saw happen to my same friends when I went to college. A good friend of mine who played basketball with me, she was a Black woman, she was an incredible athlete, she just got ignored, like she didn’t exist.

CrisMarie: This is at UBA?

Susan: At UBA. And I was like, oh my God, I cannot imagine that experience of just not existing, I get it. That’s a painful place to be.

CrisMarie: Yeah, it is. Now, even listeners, think about a time where you felt excluded, specifically let’s think even on a team, like you didn’t belong. And what feelings came up? What did you experience feeling wise when you were in that excluded spot? And how did you behave as a result of that? And this is a question our instructors asked us. And the feelings were like I don’t matter, invisible. And then the behaviors were I didn’t speak up, I dropped out, I wasn’t engaged. It really is demoralizing to feel that sense of exclusion.

And even contrast that to think of a time that you felt included on a team like you belonged, and what feelings came up and how did you behave? Because if you’re anything like me, when I felt, it’s like I feel energized. I matter.

Susan: The difference between, if you could see her, this is Susan talking. When she was talking about the exclusion she was kind of leaned over. And now as she’s talking, as soon as she started to talk about inclusion you lit up. CrisMarie, she’s like, there she is on stage.

CrisMarie: Well, and I think what’s powerful is to ask this because every human, even if you’re a white male on top of the pyramid of supremacy, whatever it is, you have experienced, I’m going to guess, a time where you felt excluded and included. And the reason to connect to that is for empathy because when you recognize, wow, it really sucks to feel excluded, you may be less inclined to exclude others. So I think that’s a really important point to bring home your own experience of exclusion.

Susan: Yeah. Well, I think it is, like you said, it’s a way to build empathy. It’s a way break it out of a political thing, or a positional thing, or I’m going to lose something, any of that. It’s like well think about exclusion and inclusion. And when you haven’t been, because so many people are afraid of what they’re going to lose if they have to give in. And it’s like, well, just think about the pain that somebody else is suffering because you’re not even willing to equalize the playing field. To me that does make a difference.

CrisMarie: And the whole politicizing of it is really sad for me because in this group that I was in, I had 20 peers, we were from all over the world, South Africa, Turkey, certainly the US, a lot on the East Coast, but we had breakout groups. And one woman, she had blond hair, blue yes, and she was paired with an African-American woman and they had a breakout as we all did. And the African-American woman came back and said, “Wow, I had no idea.” This woman was the white blue eyed one had been excluded for religious reasons, because she was a woman.

And the other woman had no idea from the outside what had gone on. So it was a very like, okay, we can connect at a human level. Not that it helped her, certainly if you are automatically othered by the way you look, that is detrimental and painful, but to create the connection on a one-on-one.

Susan: Well, I think what you’re bringing up is it’s like if we’re going to make real changes from a systemic level we have to actually be able to have people connect in a more personal way. And so the way to connect in the personal way is to recognize that everyone has a different storyline, has experienced probably likely some version of an inclusion and exclusion. And to share those stories is actually a way to build a bridge.

But then you can actually say, “Now that you see who each person is over here, let’s have a broader conversation about systemic racism.” Because that’s actually how systems are set in place over time, it’s not as personal. But without the personal it gets really vicious.

CrisMarie: It does.

Susan: And tied up.

CrisMarie: Yeah. So it was just very – I had, probably the biggest takeaway was my connection that I had to these other 20 people or 19 people. It was so very rich to hear everybody’s different experiences. And when somebody feels excluded there is a business case for why you want inclusion to happen because when people are excluded they perform poorly, they’re unproductive, inefficient, withdraw. I certainly withdraw, turn negative, lash out, disengage, even quit.

But when somebody feels included, they’re part of the team, they matter. Again, I know my energy just shifted. But they’re willing to take accountability and be productive, work hard, they’re more innovative. And that’s what we say with conflict, perform well, they’re loyal to the organization because they know that somebody’s got their back, collaborative. And they’re appreciative. And I mean they give support to other people. It just keeps on giving.

Susan: So I think of this like you said, there is a good business case. There’s such a good hard case and business case. And both of them win, again, I go back to this whole thing, if you really want to have a discussion and dialog about how to do something different, you have to include these variables that are important to each person and different types of people, like the business piece. Or I’ve heard people say, “I’m tired of hearing about the business case for equality because that’s not the point. The point is people should be equal.”

Yeah, but if you don’t actually meet somebody at where they have placed their own values, or what’s important to them, you’re not going to have the conversation.

CrisMarie: It’s true. And when we go into organizations and we’re talking to CEOs and leaders, senior leaders, we do give them the business case to kind of get their attention, because I think it was BetterUp who did the research in 2019. That high belonging workplaces have a 56% increase in job performance and a 50% drop in turnover rates. And sick days go down by 75%. And all of this, you can pro rate this for a 10,000 person company. It would result in an annual savings of 52 million dollars.

And so why you want to kind of smack some business leaders over the head is like wait a minute, you’re not just being nice, which I do think actually the human reason is enough. But look, this is actually going to change your business. It’s going to make it better.

Susan: I can guarantee you there’s probably even more heartbeats gained than there is even money and dollars. But it is worth; both of them are well worth it.

CrisMarie: I agree.

Susan: So I think it is important to be able to address both, yes.

CrisMarie: Yeah. So diversity or inclusion is important. There is also okay, so what do we do? How do we change that? And there’s five different dimensions that we studied from inclusive behaviors. And the first one is learning about bias. And that is really just learning about how I put the world together. It’s like in our Check it Out, we have our filter and that is key to learning about how I delete, and distort and generalize information.

Susan: And that right there is just huge because so many times people haven’t paid attention, we talk about. It’s like you’re wearing this filter over your head. You haven’t really taken that off to look at how do I jump to conclusions so quickly?

CrisMarie: Yeah. And I mean some things you can do to learn about bias is question some assumptions you have. Are my assumptions about people accurate? You can check out your story. That’s why we even ask the exclusion, inclusion, do you empathize with even other departments and how their world is happening.

Susan: So many times we’re