Recent events have heightened awareness of the importance of having an inclusive work environment. Some people may not be able to picture what that looks like so I thought I’d share a little story. A few years ago I had just joined a new business area and was trying hard to fit in. My peers were two executives who had been with the business area for more than a decade. They were the institution or maybe a better description of them is that they were the clique.
Early one morning I saw the two of them standing outside of the break room just chatting and laughing. I slowly walked up to them thinking I might join in the casual conversation. As I approached, neither acknowledged me. They kept chatting with one another like I was invisible. Awkward. I stood there for about 5 seconds, which seemed like an eternity and then turned and walked away. They never batted an eye, looked my way or seemed to care that I walked away. Their actions sent a clear message that “you are not part of the conversation.”
Needless to say I didn’t feel included nor did I feel like I belonged there. There’s no excuse really for that type of behavior but sadly it still exists. It’s hurtful to individuals and harmful to organizations. Employees deserve better. Being better will require change. Because if nothing changes, nothing changes.