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The Golden Inclusion Rule


Everyone has heard of the Golden Rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. But Portia James, Director of Leadership and Organizational Development at Paychex, has a new golden rule for inclusion. “Treat others as they want to be treated.”

I had the opportunity to speak with her several months ago, and this idea really stuck with me. When she first said it, I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, my god! I do this! I throw my husband the birthday party I want every year!” He doesn’t like to celebrate his birthday, or to be the center of attention at any time, really, yet I always want to take him out and have dinner with a big group of friends. That’s what I want! But his birthday isn’t about me. Or take another example: The holidays are just around the corner, and many of us will be shopping on Black Friday. So ask yourself this:

How many gifts are you giving this season that are actually more about you than the people you are giving them to? 

I also had a chance to talk about how to measure Inclusion with Marcus Buckingham of ADP at their Analyst Day in September. We talked about the difference between measuring Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Diversity, like many metrics, is a count. How many of each kind do you have? Inclusion is so much harder?it takes effort! Inclusion is a measure that requires you to ascribe value to some part of the equation. You can have equal numbers of ethnicity, or genders, or whatever other diversity metric you want, but it will never tell you if you have inclusion. It’s purely a matter of proximity. Inclusion requires you to understand the impact of that diversity and the environment on something? hopefully your business value.

Inclusion implies some sort of understanding of where someone else comes from, respecting their opinion, soliciting their opinion (on a regular basis), and learning and always remembering what’s important to them. It reminds me of the early days of employee engagement, when we told executives to listen to their employees about what recognition actually means to them, admonishing, “Don’t assume having dinner with you is a reward!” Or when we shared the story of the sales leader who gave a free iPod to his top salesperson? who was deaf…

I think the Golden Inclusion Rule also highlights the fact that employee engagement, or its more recent cousin, employee experience, must be intertwined with Diversity and Inclusion. Because really, how do you separate inclusion from experience? If you are doing what it takes to include me, you will be providing an engaging and meaningful experience. You will be ensuring I feel heard, feel like I’m making a contribution, and feel that I am valued. Isn’t that what inclusion is about? Making sure we aren’t just in your world to be counted, but that we are valued colleagues contributing to a common cause. So, in gift-giving and in D&I, remember the Golden Inclusion Rule: it’s not about you.

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