The Science of Inclusion

In an increasingly global marketplace, diversity and inclusion are being recognized more and more as imperative for business success. Diverse and inclusive teams are smarter, more creative, and make better decisions. While an increasing number of organizations are embracing the notion of diversity, the practice of inclusion is often overlooked. Being respected, valued, and welcome to contribute equates to more than just good feelings: Humans have a biologically based need to belong—to feel included, supported, and valued by others socially. In fact, research shows that social exclusion can negatively impact performance, productivity, and pro-social behavior, among other consequences. The challenge is, we often make others feel excluded without realizing it. First, the language, nonverbal cues, and subtle interactions we engage in can communicate signals of exclusion. Second, initiatives that focus on minimizing exclusion can actually increase feelings of out-group. Essentially, if we’re not actively including, chances are we’re accidentally excluding. To address this challenge, rather than focus on how to not exclude, we provide a neuroscience-based approach focused on what to do more of in order to achieve an inclusive workplace.

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