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What is Inclusion?

#3DVU What is Inclusion? Episode 2 Season 227 min read

Inclusion is widely talked about in business, government, social and economic debates; however, it is a term that is seldom defined. In this episode, we discuss what it is and what it means, and what we lose by not understanding.

Transcript of Episode 2 Season 2

LaMondre Pough: Welcome to 3DVU, one conversation, three different perspectives. I’m LaMondre Pough.

David Pérez: I am David Peréz.

Richard Streitz: And I am Richard Streitz. Thank you for joining us.

David Pérez: So welcome to the 3DVU. Today we’re going to talk about something that, that’s really fun. We usually find ourselves in conversations with friends, family members, and even companies.

And we’re talking always about inclusion because that’s part of what we do. But one thing that we we’ve come to realize is that most people, although they have a general idea of what inclusion is, they don’t really understand what it is and what it means to most people. And we want to talk about it here, learn the different perspectives that we have around what inclusion is, what inclusion means, how inclusion, how, how you can identify inclusion and learn a little bit more about it. I can start guys, if you, if you give me the green light.

Richard Streitz: Absolutely. Go for it.

David Pérez: With a sort of definition that I, I find really interesting because there there’s sort of the, the general idea that inclusion is about opening doors for people to cross them. But I think that we need to go a little bit deeper because the population that’s usually not included, even though the door might be open, they don’t necessarily know that it is open. And if you only open doors in big quotations then, and you don’t tell them how to cross them.

Is that door good for anything? Are you actually including anyone? If you just opened the door and don’t let people know that they are welcomed. I think that that’s where we need to start by understanding that even though inclusion is opening doors to equality, to, to people, for people to have the same rights, it’s about much more than that.

It’s about education. It’s about actually getting people to understand that there’s an underlying value that makes us all equal. And when we get to that point of understanding, inclusion becomes a given and then inclusion is just part of life. But that’s the thing. Inclusion is very, very hard to conceptualize because it’s not something that you can actually point to.

It’s not something that you can actually just ‘see that’s inclusion. There you go. There’s another inclusion going’. So it’s something that you have to sort of interiorize apprehend in your mind and actually start implementing in your own life. And then you’ll be able to see when exclusion is happening, because I think that’s the beginning.

When you understand what exclusion is, then you understand what inclusion means, what that would mean in a, in a more natural sense. So that’s sort of my introduction because I know that people seem to think that inclusion is only about opening doors. That’s what politics has made it seem like, but it’s about so much more.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah, I agree with that wholeheartedly David, and honestly, the way that I see inclusion is very similar to that. In fact, what I’m about to say may sound silly at first, but, but hear me out. Inclusion really is all inclusive. And what I mean by that is, as you said, David, it’s one thing to open doors. Is that a part of inclusion?

Absolutely, it is. Opening doors is certainly a part of it. Opening doors for people that may not have had access before. But the other piece of that is when those doors are open, is it an even playing field when those doors are open, what are the advantages? What are the privileges? What are the, um, areas of experience or inexperience or disadvantages or, or biases that keep people from fully experiencing a level playing field?

So. Any example that you gave David about, about opening doors, I think about, okay, so, um, during the emancipation proclamation, when the slaves were freed, where did they go? What means did they have to support themselves? And what, what was the springboard for them to now be, um, for them to now live free?

And, and, and the truth is that was a major part of the issue. Now, of course, the emancipation proclamation never guaranteed equality. It never guaranteed any of those things. But if you work on the ideal, if you work under the ideal of, of people being free, people, you know, now you can make your own way in the world.

Then you have to say, okay, well then we have to do some things to make that possible. And it’s the same thing, even now, when we think of, when we think of the rights of people with disabilities, when we think of gender equity, when we think of racial disparities, when we start talking about inclusion, it’s not just, Oh, check the box.

We fixed this particular problem. Or we fixed this particular situation. It really is looking at it from, from the totality evidence. How do we create level playing fields so that people can really enjoy what inclusion is supposed to be about? And so that, that’s kind of how I see it.

Richard Streitz: You know, what what’s interesting is that inclusion works at a couple of different levels, um, across our, our, um, our society. Um, and by that, I mean, you know, and we talked a little bit about this before we got on I, and it, and it really sticks with me is the idea of inclusion and the idea of belonging and how those aren’t necessarily the same thing. And they don’t always happen at the same time.

Um, and, and so, uh, you know, in the context of legally being inclusive or, or legally mandating inclusiveness, via compliance laws and, and, and so forth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual feels like they are being included or that they belong. Um, and, and so it goes beyond just, um, the laws of, or, or, or statutes that are being created, um, that, that aim to create inclusiveness. Um, it goes down to the individual personal level. Uh, person to person face to face, uh, of being inclusive, you know, uh, putting that into action, um, and, and truly making that belonging. And that, that goes, you know, across the board from not only just lifestyle, but immigration, um, um, accessibility, um, and persons with disabilities’ communities.

It’s, you know, that same attitude has to be adopted it, that it has to go beyond when we mean inclusiveness, that it goes beyond just the, the tangible aspects of, of inclusiveness in regard to law, but also putting it into action at a personal, uh, at a person to person level or a community community level.

Um, and, uh, you know, and that’s sort of, I think that’s the more challenging, um, element of, of inclusiveness that, uh, that we all face. Uh, and, and, and that speaks to our subconscious biases. That we, you know, we were not aware of, but we, but we react to, or enact to, um, on a, on a, on a daily basis, uh, and, and at, at a societal or cultural level.

Um, and that’s where it gets really, really complex in regard to creating truly, um, inclusive communities.

David Pérez: Yeah. And there’s a big problem about that, right? Because we know for a fact that a high percentage of CEOs understand the importance of inclusion or at least vocally, they say that they understand the importance of inclusion, but I, I don’t think that they really do understand what inclusion means, because if they did, actions would be completely different. It would actually be inclusive, not just like LaMondre once said in a, in a, in a speech he gave, ‘Oh, we got one of those’. Right, right. Well, because that’s basically, that’s basically what they’re trying to do. Usually they’re just trying to check boxes and instead of actually, including and that’s the thing inclusion is about so much more that it, it’s basically a mindset change.

LaMondre Pough: Right.

Richard Streitz: Yeah.

David Pérez: You need to absolutely change your mindset to be inclusive and to actually include people because let’s see, inclusion is about respecting diversity, respecting people for who they are, but it is also about equal rights, everyone having the same rights. And that’s why I think that inclusion should and is a human right.

LaMondre Pough: Absolutely.

David Pérez: Every single individual should be included.

LaMondre Pough: Absolutely. And not only is it about, not only is it about every individual having those rights, but it’s also about applying those rights equally across the board. Because here’s the thing, people will say, you have the right to do this and you have the right to do that.

But when those rights are being violated, the the, the treatment is so much different for different populations and for different individuals. And I think that that is a major part of it because on the surface, again, we can say, Hey, you know, we’re all created equal, but when it is a, when you see something, when you see rights being systematically, held back from certain groups.

Richard Streitz: Or eroded.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah, exactly. Uh, then even though you may have that right. That right is not being protected or regarded as much, this is why things like black lives matter are so important. Those words were important and are important because what we realize is that everybody says, well, all lives matter. Well, why are you treating the black ones this way?

If all lives matter.

David Pérez: Why have you been, why have you been treating some lives different for years, for decades, for generations, right. And that’s the thing. That’s why I said at the beginning that inclusion stems from exclusion. If there was no exclusion, there would be no need for inclusion, right. That disenfranchised populations are the ones that are fighting for inclusion and are the ones that need to be included.

And that, that’s why we need to take proactive action to include them. It’s not like we’re trying to give benefits to a small percentage of the population, just because we want to it’s about leveling the playing field and why do we want, do we have to level the playing field? And here’s a quote from Martin Luther King.

Now that we are recording this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. And that’s the thing. Whatever happens outside that’s an injustice is threatening you, your life and the lives of those you care for and the lives of your children. If you don’t fight for real justice, which of course means equal justice for every single individual, then what you’re doing is just talk and not much else. Right. And that’s why inclusion needs to encompass those different aspects that Richard was talking about. It’s not just about black lives matter. It’s about disability inclusion as well. So it’s about including the LGBTQ community it’s about including everyone for who they are and how they contribute to society, whatever that is, whatever that translates to in your mind, you just need to understand that they need to have the same rights, the same opportunities.

And again, we go back to this, this might sound communists, but it is not. It is social. The only way to grow a healthy society is by understanding that difference exists and that we need to work to make everyone have the same opportunities. That’s the only thing that we can do.

LaMondre Pough: You know what, man, that, what that sounds to me is it just sounds like right.

You know what I’m saying? I mean, if you, 

Richard Streitz: It sounds like the right way to be, right?

LaMondre Pough: If you put whatever, you know, political ideologies or structures, out of that, you know, working so that everyone has, so that everyone has an opportunity an equal opportunity just sounds like, right. In fact, what it sounds like is what the whole goal of democracy is, you know, that’s, that’s what it sounds like.

Um, and, and, you know, to, to your point about that, to what doctor that, what Dr. King said, Um, you know, about, you know, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. I think that’s why it’s so important for, for everyone, um, to be a champion for, for causes that may not necessarily affect them, you know?

And, and the reason that I, the reason that I think that is, it’s quite simple, we all need allies and we all need accomplices. You know, your, your allies are the people. ‘Yeah, I got, I got your back. I’ll be there for you’ and, and all those kinds of things. But your accomplices are the people who are really there.

They’re in the trenches with you. They’re the people who, who, who, who are out there, who are out there making change happen with you. And even, even when I give presentations and I talk about the steps to either creating a more inclusive environment, um, and give steps to creating a more inclusive environment.

One of the things that I say is find the champion and be the champion. And basically what I’m saying there is find the people who will, uh, who will become your ally. Find the people who will, who may not necessarily have anything to do with the cause. Or the, or the issue that, that you’re addressing, but who may have certain influence and a certain privilege that will help open doors for you.

But then the flip side of that is being that champion yourself. Being that ally that accomplice for a cause or an issue that someone else is addressing that may not directly impact you at all, but you can use your influence. You can use your privilege, you can use your circles to help advance that cause.

And if we all did that, if we all started caring, for each other, then we could really see some momentum. Then we could really see eyes opening. Then we could really see that change that we all want to see.

Richard Streitz: Yeah, I, I, you know, absolutely. You know, it comes down to understanding, tolerance, um, respect the, these are the, these are the, certainly the foundations of inclusion.

Um, especially when you think of it in a sense of a broad cultural, um, uh, a sense of it, of an of inclusion. Uh, if you don’t have awareness, uh, understanding or tolerance, uh, because you don’t necessarily have to agree. Right. I mean, I think it’s. It’d be, um, unrealistic to assume that everyone, everyone would agree, but you have to be able to be tolerant.

And I think that’s one of the large key elements that’s missing from society in general, we’ve become so polarized, um, over a number of years, not just more recent years, but, uh, you know, uh, across a long time now, um, where we’ve gotten away from the true understanding of, of tolerance where we can, we can live and respect.

And have freedoms with each other and tolerate the freedoms of, of how others express, have tolerance for how others express their freedoms. Um, it’s, it’s, um, I think that’s really, truly important because, um, it can’t be all one way. And to your point, LaMondre about how, when we, um, when you see someone’s freedoms being eroded or, or, um, being diminished to stand idly by, because well, that doesn’t really affect me. Well, it, it really does. Um, you know, as, as you were saying, because by allowing that to happen, what you’re doing is in a larger sense, allowing the activity of eroding away freedoms, um, across a larger cultural societal way.

Which could come around and then affect something maybe that personally affects you because you’ve allowed it to get to that point.

LaMondre Pough: Right.

Richard Streitz: Um, so by watching it, um, even though, again, it personally may not necessarily affect you. It, it does in the long run because you’re allowing, um, allowing it to propagate, um, and continuing, and you know, those are, I think those are some of the things that we have chosen to ignore as a broader culture here in the U S for so, so long, that is, you know, where we are. It’s gotten us to where we are. Um, and it’s come to head.

David Pérez: Yeah. So in terms of what inclusion is, I think we’ve covered that I would really like to, for us to talk about, what’s the value of inclusion because that’s, I guess the next question, right?

Because I understand inclusion. I now get what inclusion means. Why should I be inclusive? Why should my organization be inclusive? What do I gain? What’s in it for me because we know that humans are like that. We know that companies are like that. You’re going to be looking what’s the benefit. Right. So Richard, go ahead.

Richard Streitz: Well yeah, I mean, you know, I think one of the important things that, that, uh, inclusive brings is, is the mix is the mix of concepts and ideas and different thinking that only makes something better. Um, You know, the variety of input, we all have different experiences, uh, us as a global cultural, uh, society. And when you put people together, um, especially putting people together that have such varied backgrounds and experiences, the, the thought processes and innovations that can occur become tenfold, um, because you’re not mixing just in a, in a, in a sterile environment, um, or in a homogenous environment, uh, with, with, with like-minded thinking people that, that prevents that sort of outside the box, thinking that sort of a radical, uh, thinking that, that. Uh, that creates true innovation and experimentation and so forth.

So I think by having it, by being much more inclusive, and again, this, this spans enterprise civic, uh, social. By by having a much broader sense of inclusion, you really, really get to have a really rich, um, uh, evolving of, of, uh, of society culture, and, you know, whether that’s art, music, science, engineering, uh, whatever, um, it only just becomes that much more, um, and speeds up the process exponentially.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah.

David Pérez: LaMondre.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah. Um, survival. Bottom line  in order for us to survive, um, we have to, as Richard said, this, this whole evolution we have to evolve and because things have changed so much over the past 75 years, we have become so much more interdependent on each other. And I’m talking about even, at one point, it seemed to be the way to win and move ahead was by the strong bonds of a homogenous group. Those things, that, those things that, that we, we, we think of, like, we move alike, we look alike, we act alike and these bonds are the things that has helped us to survive thus far. Well now because of globalization and because of the way that economies have changed, because of the way society has changed because of the way our planet has changed.

What we’ve really found was value in those, those fragile, simple, small things that really are the connections between us. Because in those things, what we realized is we know we hold onto who we are. We don’t change who we are. We don’t change how we see necessarily the entire world. But what we do realize is wait a minute, but there are some things that I am connected to with those people over there, that thing over there, at this particular part of the ecosystem and it’s those bonds, those bonds that, that, that really perpetuate and, and sustain survivability.

And that’s the reason I believe inclusion is so important because inclusion is not about assimilating or taking on the characteristics of anything else. It really is about, it really is about maintaining your uniqueness, but figuring out how we all work in this thing together as individuals, as, as, as unique pieces of the puzzle.

And honestly, In order for our planet to survive. It is that inclusiveness that must be there. One of the principle tenants of sustainability is about inclusion. When you look at the SDGs and you look at, you look at what it’s going to take, um, to, to, to realize those goals. Inclusion is a constant theme running through all of that, because it is going to take all of us in order to make that happen. So what’s in it for me, survival, survival of me as an individual, survival of my people, survival of my planet.

David Pérez: Yeah. And what’s in it for the companies. I think companies don’t realize that inclusion is not something that they do because it’s a good thing to have. I think companies need to realize that inclusion is something that benefits them directly at every level, like employees that feel that the company is inclusive, perform better in general, because they feel a sense of belonging for the company.

And that increases productivity across the board. As Richard was saying, it brings new ideas because inclusion means diversity and diversity of backgrounds brings new ideas and new problem solving skills that allow companies to perform. When they champion disability, they perform two times better than companies that don’t do that.

And just in a more macro sense. What are we losing by not being inclusive? The world bank estimates that every single country, that’s not meaningfully including people with disabilities and that’s every single country in the world. They are losing 7% of their GDP. 7% annually of their GDP. So what’s the value well, the value is also economic.

Richard Streitz: 7% to be exact.

David Pérez: 7% of billions and trillions of dollars. Right? So that’s something that I don’t, I don’t understand. It doesn’t fit in my head, I guess, because I’ve been involved with this for so long, but companies don’t seem to care that they’re losing money actively, sometimes proactively by leaving people behind in, in the dumbest ways possible.

Right. Because if you treat people right. Then people have more money to spend on your things and the things of everyone else. And if everyone has more money, they have more money to spend. So your company performance better, your country performs, performs better. Society grows. Everyone is better.

So exclusion doesn’t bring any good.

Richard Streitz: Right.

David Pérez: Other than the sense of megalomania, of being better than someone else. Which we need to understand no one is better than anyone.

Richard Streitz: Yeah. Well, uh, you know, what’s interesting is, I think the difference as to especially larger enterprises, larger, more mature multinational enterprises, um, they’re, they. They don’t necessarily re, realize the importance of it because they’re stuck with that old world thinking, um, there. And I think that’s a lot, a lot of these issues stem from stagnation at the top of, uh, of, uh, you know, 19, uh, anywhere from 1970s to well, or 1960s to a 1990s mentality in regard to, to structure, um, without necessarily taking any of these newer, um, newer metrics into consideration.

Um, where inclusion, you know, the idea that inclusion, the first thing that comes to their mind for, for that generation would be, you know, um, persons with disabilities, uh, and, and, uh, wow, wow. But they don’t represent nothing and, you know, blah, blah, blah. They don’t contribute anything, you know, leeches on society, blah blah, from, from, from, um, and that’s just not, um, that’s just not the thinking now, you know, that, that is that old world thinking, um, that old mentality that, uh, that really has no place in a boardroom.

Uh, but, but yet that’s the demographic that sits in the boardrooms. Um, and I think the ones that are far more enlightened are much more in tune are the ones that are advancing and the ones that have survived. Um, you know, all I have to do is look at the, at the long list of companies, especially older, uh, companies that have that have, um, that have dissolved or have, have, have, have gone away as a result of, of being defiant and standing with that old world thinking versus companies that have, you know, they they’ve dipped, um, they’ve dipped down, but have kind of pulled themselves up because suddenly there’s, there was this understanding that they have to think differently than they have in the past in order to be successful. And so, you know, lots of different examples of companies that have pulled themselves out and moved forward, being successful, um, adopting a lot of this more, more, um, inclusive thinking and mentality as just part of their processes.

David Pérez: Yeah. And I would add to that, that. As LaMondre was saying, it’s a matter of survival. If your company is not inclusive, it will not attract new talent.

Richard Streitz: Right, right.

David Pérez: The talent that’s actually out there now coming out of college and extremely well-prepared is not interested in working for a soulless corporation.

Right. They’re simply not, they’re simply not attracted by companies that don’t mean anything to them. And, because..

Richard Streitz: And that don’t have any reference.

David Pérez: Life, life for new generations finally, and thank God is about much more than money, right? It’s about much more than just making a solid salary.

Richard Streitz: Well, and that’s really what separates, I think the old world thinking versus the new world thinking is exactly that. The idea that it’s not just quarterly profits. I mean, obviously quarterly and profits are important for any major corporation because you have investors and blah, blah, blah, but you’ve got to do it socially in a social responsible way. And that is, that is the difference. Um, the difference where it’s not the almighty dollar at any cost it’s well, it’s the, it it’s, it’s the almighty dollar at a, at a level of responsibility, um, that is equitable for a broader spectrum of individuals.

David Pérez: Exactly.

LaMondre Pough: Right.

David Pérez: It’s it’s giving meaning to the dollar. Right? Right. So what I’m doing, it’s getting me money, but it needs to mean something to me. It needs to mean something to my society, because if, if, uh, if not, why am I going to do it?

LaMondre Pough: Right, right. And I’ll tell you, what’s so interesting about that.

Isn’t it funny how it’s not about, it’s not solely about the almighty dollar, but when you do good in this area, the almighty dollar becomes even more mighty. It begins to..

Richard Streitz: It finds you, right?

LaMondre Pough: Because the thing that we, the, the, and again, it goes back to this whole sustainability piece of it. It is a system that feeds itself.

And when you take care of it, when you, when you, when you nurture that, when you push that. You reap the benefits of a robust system. You know, it, it, it’s, it’s really amazing how this works. It really is. Now it does cause, it does cause for a much more complex way of thinking. It causes us to dig deeper. It causes us to reach further than just looking at the simple number of things or just looking at the matrix of how we measure success.

But the benefits are far more reaching. I mean, you, you, you, you, you think about it just in terms of.. Urban areas where transportation was, what was the thing. You had all these roads and concrete everywhere. Well, now they’re installing green spaces and some people say, why would they do that? It’s going to make it more difficult, man people are being people, people are becoming healthier, you know? And so that means that I can work more.

That means that I can. And so it’s just a, it’s, it’s a cycle. It’s a system that again, when done right. It, it, it perpetuates good stuff throughout all of the system.

David Pérez: Yeah. It generates ripple ripple effects, right. Everything starts moving and improving in general across the board. And if nothing else, if you’re in a leadership position, you should think about, about it from the legacy standpoint, what do you want to leave your children?

What do you want to leave the world? Because if, if you’re in a leadership position, you’re probably done a lot to be there, but what’s it going to matter if everything goes to hell, right. The world burns.

Richard Streitz: Right. Right.

David Pérez: If society destroys itself from within. We need to be inclusive. It’s an imperative for every single one of us, wherever we are.

We need to work towards inclusion. We need to champion inclusion as LaMondre was saying, we need to be accomplices for other groups. We need to just do our best to be inclusive because it’s the only way that the world is going to be what we have envisioned for years. Like all of those future, how is it going to look like the floating cars and whatnot?

There’s no way we’re going to get there unless we’re inclusive.

LaMondre Pough: Right, right. Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, and I I’ll tell you this, being that we were recording this, um, on Dr. Martin Luther King’s day, this is the day that, that the US pauses to recognize the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King and what he stood for and what his fight was for.

I want people to understand this and, and to be clear, it really is about what you can do. What do you do you as an individual to further, further the cause of justice? What can you do as an individual to, to help make the world more inclusive? What can you do as an individual to help create environments where people truly develop a sense of belonging and it doesn’t matter what, what areas or what issues you are addressing.

Just as long as you address them. Because even though we know Dr. Martin Luther King for his, for his work and the civil rights movements, as it related to black people, believe me: when you hear him, when you heard him speak and he talked about, you know, assault on justice, anywhere is an assault on justice everywhere.

When you heard him talk about these kinds of things, it was not just about racial equality.

Richard Streitz: Right.

LaMondre Pough: It was about the equality for all of us. In fact, right before his assassination, one of the biggest things he was working on was something called the poor people’s campaign. So when you go out there and when you think about what Dr. Martin Luther King did, don’t think about it just as a thing that happens today or in the month of January or the month of February, but think about it as a lifestyle choice and what can I do? To further these causes, what can I do to further this concept? Because ultimately that’s what Dr. Martin Luther King fought for.

That’s what he lived for. That’s ultimately what he died for. So, yeah.

David Pérez: Yeah. Let’s, let’s end this episode with, with a quote from, from one of his speeches, ‘our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’. Thank you very much.

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