Building a more inclusive world

04 March 2024

Executive MBA student, Nicki Binks, reflects on this year’s International Women’s Day theme: ‘Inspire Inclusion’, sharing her personal experiences and providing valuable insights into the ways we can actively build a more inclusive world.

What does this year’s theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’ mean to you?

To me, it means untapping the potential in every person, and encouraging collaboration from all.

How has exclusion presented itself to you?

Exclusion in its true definition is ‘not being permitted to express views’.

Whilst exclusion has presented itself to me in various forms throughout the years (whether unintentional or with underlying cause). I have found you always have a voice and various tools to make it heard, adapting to the situation e.g.

  • Meetings where individuals views are selectively sought. This can close down other conversations, however.  it risks groupthink or valuable insights for decisions.
  • Being shut down on ideas, or others paraphrasing – get to know your audience and try different styles
  • Hierarchical reference – jumping straight to authority rather than the expert. Use your knowledge and be heard, adapting a range of styles and tools to the situation.

How can we create workplaces that are free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination? What makes a progressive employer in the arena of inclusion?

With a rapidly growing global population of 8.1 billion with diverse education, backgrounds and personal stories, there is immense power to be found in these differences.

Be mindful of natural preferences, be it vocal tones, body language or cultural style, and actively seek exposure to become more familiar with these differences.

For example, convening a group chat with ‘similar minds’ is easy... facilitating thoughts of varied minds is more challenging and valuable.

To harness the power of thought, create environments which inspire individuals to flourish. Create a world where communication bridges gaps rather than creates divides.

With the emergence of AI, in time it may well assist us to hear a voice in a ‘preferred tone’, otherwise 8.1 billion people need to train their ears to hear differently… but in the absence of that, it is upon all of us to be mindful that someone's preferred tone may not align with our own.

Progressive employers encourage positive action

  1. Fostering awareness and inclusivity in decision-making.  Recognise that not everyone has had exposure to different backgrounds, cultures and the privilege of travel or diverse team working.
  2. Harness collaboration for value. The true power of inclusion for me lies in the strength of the team. Be a Change Maker by actively contributing to a culture of inclusivity, across gender, culture, and background.
  3. Promote opportunities for a diverse workforce. Having worked in global teams with individuals from all over the world, from exec to construction environments, some of my most valuable moments have been building relationships to understand the perspectives of many groups.

What’s your advice to any women reading this?

The majority of people have good intentions and a good heart. Understand the intention.

My advice goes to anyone (of any gender, culture, or background) who has felt excluded or has felt they have excluded someone at some point or other. And, if you say neither applies to you, I challenge you to reflect.

  • Act with energy - are your thoughts and actions holding you or others back…if so do something about it, with positive energy.
  • Be happy about your individual differences - businesses thrive on differentiation, encourage individual differentiation to realise value.
  • Be heard - perceptions change with time and exposure – take positive action within your control & sphere of influence