We need active inclusion

We need active inclusion

Diversity isn't about ticking boxes. It must also be about listening and engaging. In this blog, Sudhir offers a few practical steps to achieve such active inclusion.

“So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (NIV)

In a recent Focus group, we were discussing the concept of inclusion. Christian teachings call us to be more inclusive towards members of our own church and the broader community. In political parlance, Active Inclusion has become a goal to strive for. Active Inclusion means “enabling every citizen, notably the most disadvantaged, to fully participate in society, including having a job”. While I agree that this is necessary to build a more just and equitable society, the Focus group discussion got me thinking about how we can adopt active inclusion into our daily lives.

In most settings, it is generally accepted now that a diversity brings out the best voices. However, active inclusion calls for all these voices to be heard and engaged with. If not, this range of voices can be reduced to tokenism.

So how can we be more actively inclusive? I share a few thoughts below.

1) Actively engage with other’s lives outside of our bubble. Each of us has a story with ups and downs which have brought us to where we are. We must take steps to learn more about each person. Even if it means taking ourselves outside of our comfort zone.

2) Actively engage with the global. There is no shortage of terrible news in the world now. And we do not know how this might be impacting each other. For example, most South Asian friends and colleagues of mine are deeply impacted by the deteriorating current Covid situation in India. While we seem to have seen the worst of it in London (for now), we are constantly bombarded with news about how bad the situation is at home. Being open to hearing about how global events impacts us, helps us be of better support to others and walk with them in their time of need.

3) Actively engage with the person standing on their own. After a year of lockdowns, it is only natural to be excited to see friends and catch up. However, others might not have the benefit of being a member of a friend’s group. Ask them to join in the conversation. Ask them about themselves. For some this might come naturally, for others it might not. But being the recipient of this inclusion might make all the difference especially during a difficult time.

By no means, is this an exhaustive list but I hope it sparks a conversation on more ways we can become more actively inclusive to build a more robust global community where all voices are heard and appreciated.