Neither Duper Nor Dupee Be: Learning to Inclusify
I was introduced to a new term “dupe” when I was facilitating a leadership development workshop in 1998. In the hotel where I was staying, I was called down to the front desk in the early evening to meet with a young man who wanted to join our program. He spoke knowledgeably about what was going on and then asked for $100 to cover his first night’s lodging. I hesitated for a moment, then sensing his eagerness, I gave him the money with the promise that he would repay me in the morning. The hotel manager was watching the proceedings and when the young man left, he came over to me and told me that I had been “duped.” I, in fact, was the “dupee” and the young man was the “duper.” I never saw him again.
Some 25 years later, I have been introduced to a new term “inclusify.” This is the verb, and the one who carries out the action is the “inclusifier” with the one who benefits from the action the “inclusified.” The earlier example was a negative one whereas the second is extremely positive.
“Inclusify” means to live and lead in a way that recognizes and celebrates unique and dissenting perspectives while creating a collaborative and open-minded environment where everyone feels they truly belong. “Inclusifying” implies a continuous, sustained effort toward helping diverse teams feel engaged, responsible, accepted, and valued. “Inclusify” means building a platform to collect, validate, and visualize diversity, inclusion, and belonging for organizations and provides the open market with the tools to assess and compare inclusivity efforts. With strong leadership and a commitment to team-building, recruitment, and retention informed by organizational data, an organization can make a permanent shift toward a culture of belonging and realize a measured improvement in team productivity and value.
In Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams, Stephanie Johnson, an associate professor of Organizational Leadership and Information Analytics at the University of Colorado, tells us that we humans have two basic desires: to stand out and to fit in. Many companies respond by creating groups that tend toward the extreme: where everyone fits in and no one stands out or where everyone stands out and no one fits in.
In her research, Johnson found some common problems leaders exhibit that frustrate their attempts to create diverse and cohesive teams. Leaders who underestimated the importance of group coherence and dynamics often have coworkers who do not feel like they belong; leaders who ignore the benefits of listening to different perspectives and leave some coworkers feeling like they cannot be their authentic selves.
By contrast, leaders who “inclusify” can forge strong relationships with their teams, inspire greater productivity from all their coworkers, and create a more positive environment for everyone. Having a true range of different voices is good for a company’s bottom line – it allows for the development of the optimal, most innovative, and creative solutions, which are essential to success.
Research suggests most of us prefer diversity over homogeneity, and those of us who work in more diverse and inclusive environments become “more engaged, committed, collaborative, and satisfied with our jobs.” These findings are especially true for Gen Z, who are now entering the workforce and seeking diversity at work.
By learning why uniqueness and belonging are so imperative, we will grow to understand what makes our colleagues tick and find ways to encourage them to become themselves while ensuring that they all feel part of the team. The result will be a fully engaged organization filled with diverse perspectives – the key to creating innovative and imaginative ideas. Full engagement and connection – absent of “duping” – in turn drives value.
Vice President Emeritus for Learning Technologies Donald Smith, Ed.D, CPT, headed ME&A programs in learning, leadership, and performance enhancement. He stayed with the firm in his retirement, bringing more than 65 years of experience as a coach, designer, facilitator, evaluator, manager, educator, and organizational change architect in more than 50 countries.