The Importance of Inclusivity

Along with diversity and equity, inclusivity is a topic that all communities should be aware of and actively work to implement. Even if it is a topic that you feel you are familiar with, it is important to continuously examine and understand any blind spots you may have that prohibit your ability to be more inclusive. As a cooperatively owned business, the idea of inclusivity is of paramount importance as concern for the community is a guiding principle in everything that we do. This blog is not only a call to action for its readers, but a reflection and reminder of the things that we need to be doing as an organization to be as inclusive as possible.

So, what is inclusivity anyways?

For those that like textbook definitions, inclusivity can be defined as:

“the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups.”

That means that you are taking all people, especially historically marginalized groups – whether it be based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, body features, etc. – into consideration within all facets of daily life. The fact of the matter is that implicit bias is universal amongst us all. While implicit bias is something that is important for everyone to be aware of so that they can avoid making altered decisions, it is especially important for people in leadership roles as their actions and opinions can often shape a culture that makes people feel excluded.

The difference between inclusivity and diversity

While there are parallels between diversity and inclusivity, it is important to distinguish the two as separate. Whereas diversity is by most accounts a measurable characteristic, inclusivity is defined by the actual work you are doing to shape your mindset and actions to ensure that diverse groups feel represented and included. Any organization or activity can claim to be diverse by having a variety of different people that participate. And while this is important, it is all for nothing if that same organization or activity is not making every person that makes up that diverse group feel as if they truly have a seat at the table.

What can I do to be more inclusive?

There are many things that you can do to approach inclusivity in your daily life. One thing you can do immediately is to be more mindful in general; this is always a great first step. This means evaluating your biases and privileges, staying open to education and feedback and taking a second to think about the language you use. This blog does a great job of taking a more in-depth look at some of the tangible steps you can take to be more inclusive.

How can we be inclusive at the Co-op?

As a Co-op, inclusivity means that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our policies, staffing, management, communications, accessibility and attitudes are all aligned and accommodating to our entire community. It means that our recently formed Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Taskforce will continue seeking out trainings and educational materials for our Board and management team so that we can successfully implement necessary policy changes, confront implicit bias and lead the rest of the team to do the same. It means that we will be more cognizant of the language we use in our hiring posts, blogs, social media posts, newsletters and in-store signage. And it also means that we will need to constantly evaluate the products that we carry to ensure that everyone feels that they can find what they need at the Co-op. Because at the end of the day, the Co-op belongs to everyone in our community and it is our responsibility to make sure we truly abide by that.