How to engage your colleagues in inclusion

Wed 21 March 2018

Men and women in corporate attire around a table, engaged in a meeting

A significant challenge faced by diversity and inclusion professionals is how to engage their colleagues in inclusion. How to put it on their agendas. How to make it a priority. It wasn’t a surprise to hear variations of this challenge described last week at our Member Induction meeting.

Member inductions are an opportunity for representatives from new Member organisations (and new representatives from established Member organisations) to come together and find out how to get the most from their partnership with us.

When the group was asked what they wanted to get from their Australian Network on Disability membership, a resounding area of interest was strategies for internal engagement:

  • How to get colleagues to read, consider and action a Disability Inclusion Plan
  • How to engage teams across the whole business
  • How to further embed inclusion within the business
  • In the words of Dylan Alcott, how to make an accessibility strategy ‘sexy’

Here are some tried and tested ways to build awareness and engagement within your organisation. 

Evaluate access and inclusion across your business 

An important step is to acknowledge that inclusion is a journey. It takes sustained effort and a whole-of-business approach to affect change. To this end, an invaluable tool in many of our members’ journeys has been our Access and Inclusion Index Comprehensive Self-Assessment.

Designed to connect and engage multiple business teams, this tool facilitates a collaborative approach to evaluating access and inclusion across ten key areas of your business. Use it to build awareness and understanding; highlight areas of success; identify gaps; and develop a roadmap for the future. When your colleagues are involved in the journey, you’re likely to get a lot more engagement.

The power of storytelling 

Storytelling also has a powerful role to play. You only need to look at our video series about how we’ve connected people with disability to business, to see how stories help build confidence and change people’s attitudes about disability in the workplace.

Create an effective employee resource group 

A disability employee resource group (ERG) is another way to effectively engage people in your organisation’s journey. It can be a good source of information about the challenges people experience in the workplace; a helpful reference point for your staff; and a valuable route for consultation on policies, practices and procedures. Use it to send out positive messages about your organisation’s objectives and tell stories of the positive changes taking place. A strong ERG, senior executive champion and diversity and inclusion practitioner can be a very powerful combination.

Kate Nash OBE is the world’s leading authority in ‘networkology’ – the science behind the growth of workplace disability networks/resource groups. As keynote speaker at our 2018 National Conference, Kate explored the key ingredients to achieve long-term cultural and systemic change, and delivered her top tips for engaging people in disability inclusion. 

Learn from others 

Our members are the best proof that inclusion achieves positive outcomes. There’s a lot to be gained from the strength and experiences of our network. We encourage all our members to take advantage of opportunities to connect, collaborate and build disability confidence.

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