Dr Liz Wilson

How To Enhance Safety Inclusion

In this episode, Mary Conquest speaks with Dr. Liz Wilson, a behavioral scientist, organizational transformation expert, podcast host, and founder of Include Inc - a consultancy focused on improving workplace inclusion.

In This Episode

In this episode, Mary Conquest speaks with Dr. Liz Wilson, a behavioral scientist, organizational transformation expert, podcast host, and founder of Include Inc - a consultancy focused on improving workplace inclusion.

Safety professionals are naturally inclusive in their pursuit of creating safety for everyone, but exclusion can unintentionally occur even when we're doing our best to include. Dr. Liz has extensively researched inclusion and shares her practical findings to help make inclusivity part of workplace safety.

After defining inclusion and highlighting the serious risks of ignoring this fundamental organizational approach, Dr. Liz gives an overview of 'The 8-Inclusion Needs of all People' framework she's developed.

She explains why Access, Space, Opportunity, Representation, Allowance, Language, Respect, and Support are all crucial elements to ensure co-workers are included and gives real-life examples of how they impact the workplace.

Furthermore, Dr. Liz demonstrates why The 8 Needs provides a practical approach for HSE professionals to improve inclusion and workplace safety.

Dr. Liz's authentic, honest, and pragmatic outlook shine throughout this engaging and powerful podcast - which every safety practitioner needs to include in their essential listening list.


- [Mary] Hi there. Welcome to "Safety Labs by Slice." You probably see yourself as an inclusive person. Safety professionals especially try to include people in their initiatives because the job is to create safety for everyone. But just as the absence of injuries doesn't always signify the presence of safety, exclusion can happen even when we're doing our best to include.

Our guest today has studied inclusion in depth. She'll share her findings and some practical ways to make inclusion part of how we work. Dr. Liz Wilson is a behavioral scientist, organizational transformation expert, and founder of Include-Inc. Originally from Australia, and now based in the United States, Dr.

Liz is well known for her authentic, honest, and pragmatic approach. She's developed the include change method over the span of her 25-year career. Dr. Liz has transformed ways of working and cultures for dozens of global organizations. Her work includes implementing safety culture and capability improvements for major airlines, telecommunications, mining, and rail companies.

In February 2023, Dr. Liz published "The 8-Inclusion Needs of All People" in the "International Journal of Social Science and Review." The paper outlines a proposed framework to develop inclusion as an integral part of organizational culture. Dr.

Liz joins us from Denver, Colorado. Welcome.

- [Dr. Wilson] Thank you so much for having me today, Mary.

- So what led you into this kind of research and work?

- I'd always been working in organizational change and transformation. And in the example of safety, had worked on many projects that was about making a more safe environment for people and making them more capable at being safe and making safe decisions. And you would have these measures that would say, okay, this is your project. You've got 18 months.

Here's the end state and this is success measures that you need to get to. And invariably, you'd get somewhere close. It was about...I probably should turn it into 6 years now, I've been saying 5 years the way too long, but let's say 6 years ago, I saw the statistic around, it was 203 years until gender pay equity. And I'm like, "I could be hired to come into an organization, and within 48 hours do the data analysis and fix the pay inequity."

And then with a bit of a six-month change program to make sure processes and systems are in place to ensure that that doesn't flex back in the future. So it just didn't make sense that there was this still this long-winded expectation to achieve outcomes. So, I went about researching why that was. Why organizations weren't actually achieving those outcomes faster. And I came up with a way to do that, applying what I was able to do, but more in the context of inclusion.

So, that's really it.

- Now, before we get into what inclusion is, what's the biggest misconception you hear from people when they hear the word, inclusion, or when you introduce the idea?

- Good question, Mary. Because I'd love to answer it to be honest. Here's the thing. The words of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging kind of just get used interchangeably now and they've lost their independent meanings. So, it's really important that we distinguish inclusion for me because often I think people are using that word thinking it just means people feel like they belong.

That's it. They just feel like they can bring their authentic selves to work. That is one measure that you've achieved an outcome of belonging, but that's not what inclusion is. Inclusion is what we do to create an environment, so we can hire diverse talent so that they can thrive, that their thoughts and perspectives are valued and considered, and that they do feel like they belong and can contribute.

So inclusion is the decisions we make, the actions we take, the systems and processes we put in place. It's the how and the what we do.

- Okay. So it's not just the more passive how people are feeling about what we do.

- It's an outcome of those inclusive actions.

- Right. Exactly. So what are the risks of ignoring inclusion in a safety system?

- Infinite.

- What are a few of the risks, let's say?

- Yes. Wow. At the very helicopter view of it, I would certainly say anyone that is a professional around human factors in safety would get this entirely. That you can't assume a stereotypical normal person is the person that's using or doing in your scenario. Because if you do that, you're assuming they're capable and able and a whole bunch of other things.

You're not allowing for variants and the variables of how they may make decisions and do things differently that could cause a risk or a safety implication. So if you apply inclusion over the top of that, you're allowing yourself to see so much more variants. It's allowing you to see where the points of what I call exclusion, but in this context would absolutely be the points of safety risk that need to be addressed in the context of all diversity.

And when I say all diversity, I know people are going to go, what? How am I going to make sure I know that I address the differences of...and then you can cover off the list, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, LGBTQI, disability, neurodiversity, veteran status, so on and so on, and so on and so on.

Because I know that that seems overwhelming, but I promise today we're going to share something that makes that so much more simple.

- Well, and that actually brings me right into my next question, which is, for those who don't know, what is intersectionality and what does it have to do with inclusion?

- Yeah. Great. So intersectionality was a term that was coined in the '80s, I think it was, by someone called Kimberle Crenshaw. And it was designed as a term to describe the difference between the lived experience of a black or African American male and a black or African American woman, because her experiences are different to his because of the layer of the gender of being female.

So they're still not having the same experience as a white female, and so that's where we're talking about this intersectionality. When you have layers of different identities, your experience in this world is compounded. So it's not just one plus one that's equals two, it's potentially one plus one equals three in your lived experience of exclusion.

So that's basically what intersectionality was designed initially to reflect. But since that, it's evolved as a concept to completely understand all the possible identities that could compound to make up your lived experience and exclusion in the world. So whether you are person of color, female, you could be gay, you could have a disability, and you could be neurodiverse.

That is your whole person. And that's truly understanding intersectionality at an individual level.

- Okay. So let's get into inclusion in more depth. You've identified eight inclusion needs for all people. I'd like to go through each and for each of them ask what do they mean, how a safety system might fail in terms of that need, and then, of course, how a safety system might succeed in terms of that need.

Don't worry. I'll remind you of the questions as we go because that's three in one. I have a habit of doing that. So the first one is access. So, first of all, what does it mean, access?

- Yes. So access is often the first thing we think about when we're talking about inclusion in processes. We think about the blind person, the deaf person, and the person in the wheelchair. But really what I want to make sure we are clear about is that these eight inclusion needs are relevant to all people. They're not specific to a specific identity. We all need to be able to see, hear, and physically access what's being provided.

Full stop. That's what access is.

- So that's what it means. How does some safety systems fail at this or organizational systems even?

- Yeah, great. So, I mean, we've all been on a plane before. Well, no, actually I should rephrase that. Many people have been on a plane before, and there's always that safety briefing at the beginning of the flight before you take off. And once upon a time, it was just pointing to the safety card in the back of the seat in front of you, or it was just that there was someone demonstrating with some audio.

What they're doing there is they're making sure they're covering off the different needs in that context. So, you are covering off that someone might be visual and they can watch someone demonstrating. You can watch or listen to the audio in the description. Or if that's not possible for you, you've got the card in front of you. The one thing we need to make sure though is that there are lights on so that we can see.

We have to make sure that the audio's loud enough so people can hear and that the card can actually be understood. So is it in the languages that people know and understand? What about literacy levels? What about translations in different languages? You know, there are so many things we need to consider to address that safety moment on that plane.

But the access part is probably what's best addressed in that scenario. It would be very interesting, and I don't have the insight in the background on the emergency procedures of evacuating a plane. I'd be really interested to know how is that addressed, when, for instance, they point down the aisle and say there'll be lights, colored lights to indicate the exits over the wings or whatever.

And I'm like, those colors are green and red. How does that work for colorblindness when they both present as gray, or how does that work for someone that is legally blind? I don't know. How do those procedures meet with that? And that's what this need is about, making sure when you are designing a process or a system, you're completely looking at all the variables of how we need to see, hear, and physically access what we need.

- And I can see that coming to play in safety moments just at work, a safety moment, a toolbox talk, that sort of thing. Literacy especially varies greatly in a country like the States or Canada or most countries these days, really, where a large portion of the population may not have the language...may not be working in their native language.

- Really good point.

- So let's move to the next one because I think that, in a sense, in answering how safety systems fail, you're also answering how they can succeed. So the next one is space. What do you mean by that? Physical space?

- Yeah, physical and psychological space. So safety professionals, I believe, are responsible not just for the physical safety of people, but the psychological and mental well-being of people as well. And so in this context, space is about that physical environment you create, but not necessarily just the physical elements within that space. But let's look at the physical bits to start with.

So the physical space, is there enough room for people to access and move around? Are there the spaces that people need to take time out? You know, like you might be having a bit of a moment and you need some quiet time. You may need to administer medicine. You might need to breastfeed or pray.

It's about providing safe spaces for people to do what they need to do. So that's around the physical stuff, but there's also that psychological safety is how are we making sure people know that they feel emotionally safe to be in the room, but in the context of the physical. So are there signs or flags or indications around the room that would suggest you're not welcome, or that it's not safe for you to be there?

Think about those kinds of things. It could be...you know, I was doing an exercise with someone around branding and how does that reflect in a business to make people feel safe. And in the gym environment where it was black and it was red and it looked really heavy and masculine, it's because they were struggling to get female clients. They're going, what's wrong?

I go, "Well, I walk into that space and it's bright red and dark black and it's just all intimidating." Even color can make you feel safer or less safe as an example. So, really just applying that view of the space is how does everyone feel safe in that environment?

- So the next one is opportunity.

- Okay. So in the context of safety professionals working on designing solutions or even within their own profession, providing opportunities, we can sort of take this as two lenses. So I'm going to go in reverse order. I've worked in safety quite a few times over the years on projects. And dare I say, the majority of people I've worked with have been male.

Now, I don't know if that's a coincidence because I'm working in heavy industry, but I would like to see that there'd be more diversity, at least in the gender representation. And providing opportunities to people that aren't the same as you, not only gives them additional opportunities to progress their careers, it also adds to your profession.

It adds to the diversity of thought. It expands your ability to make better decisions. In fact, they say that decisions are made...the outcomes of decisions are 12 times better when there is a real diversity to the import of thought in that decision-making process. So if you are providing opportunities to additional people, then you're actually going to get the benefit of that.

So when also when you are designing solutions or mitigations, it's about providing opportunities for people to participate in that design. Maybe they're not the safety professionals, but they're the people at the front line. Bring them in and provide opportunities for them to have their voices heard so that you are solutioning with the people that are doing the work as well.

- Yeah. Likely creating a more successful solution because they really know where the hazards are.

- Yeah. Even if...meaning when we are working retail, we call it retail blindness. So there are things that you just don't see anymore because it's all been normalized, but at least you need to be working with the people that are directly doing the work as well.

- Now representation.

- It really does go hand-in-hand as well with that opportunity. So representation as one of the eight needs is about not just having equal numbers in the room, you know, 50% women and 50% men at a simple description. Because you could have 50% of women in the room and maybe they're not listened to, or maybe they're all in junior roles or administrative roles rather than decision-making roles.

That's not representation. Representation is when there is diversity in the room across functions, across accountabilities, and responsibilities. Their voices are heard and valued equally. That's what we're talking about with representation. So, in this context, particularly when we're doing what I would call inclusive consultation, when we're designing something new, or solutioning, or even if you're investigating from a safety point of view, where are you seeking your imports?

Are you getting full representation across the audience or whomever's impacted? Do you have representation across all stakeholders? Are you only going to the people you know you're going to have an easy conversation with and avoid conflict. You've got to force yourself to make sure you have representation.

And so you can imagine, just like I was saying for opportunity, the benefits of providing opportunities to people that may not have had that opportunity before is where representation comes in as well, sort of go hand in hand. Providing more opportunities to people that haven't been represented increases representation that, of course, makes a better outcome from your inclusive consultation.

- I think you hit on something there with difficult conversations or easy conversations. I think that might be at the root of some of the reasons why well-intentioned people are, as I say, they don't intend to exclude. Maybe they're not seeing it, but I mean, I think there's a pretty human pull to try to have the easier conversations.

- Look, I always admit that that is my weakness. I despise conflict. So for a big chunk of my career, I would avoid it like the plague. But it has been professional learning where I have to force myself to have the tough conversations. It makes me a better professional. I have better solutions when I force myself to do that. And lots of people that work in safety as well tend to have to work in environments where there may be unions.

So I understand that can make it more complicated. And lots of us really don't enjoy union conversations as well. I mean, they are tricky. But I will say with a union, the eight needs actually, when you present it to them through that lens on what you are doing, you actually tick a lot of boxes for unions because they're there to represent the people.

And if you can show that you're applying these eight needs in that context, we are here for the people. We are including everyone in our decision-making. I actually think that makes a union conversation a whole heap easier.

- Yeah, that makes sense, right? You're aligning. You're saying, "Look, here are the things we agree on."

- Yeah. That's where you always start in a union conversation.

- All right. So the next one is allowance. And I have to admit, I'm not sure what that means.

- Okay. All right. So thank you for asking then. Lots of people may have heard the term reasonable adjustments, right? When it comes to including someone's needs at work, well, if it's a reasonable adjustment, we'll give it to you. I'm very uncomfortable with that term because it actually infers that we'll only give it to you if we think you deserve it.

Allowance is flipping the switch on that and saying we actually need to make allowances and adjustments to people so they can thrive at work. That's the end goal. Having people that thrive at work, do a great job, high performance, and that are safe. So how are we in our processes and procedures, whether they're human capital style ones for, you know, having flexible work, all that kind of stuff, or if it's allowances and adjustments to how we can navigate processes if we have different needs or capabilities.

So it's creating...in the context of safety, if we were creating a process or a procedure that was really rigid and if we tested through that procedure and only 20% of the population could follow it because of capability, then it's not a suitable procedure.

You need to make sure that you've looked at how are we making sure that the needs of all people are met in this procedure so that everyone can follow it and comply with it? And if you don't, then we know what happens. People do workarounds and we know what workarounds do to safety.

- Yeah. Exactly. So when you said, you know, only 20% in this example, is there an allowable percentage or does it have to be 100%? I'm just curious because I think listeners might be thinking that.

- Yeah, it's a really good example. Let's boil it down to really simple things. People ask me questions like, yeah, but do we have to accommodate that need because it's only one person in the room? And let's say it's in a meeting and someone in your meeting is deaf. So, in that meeting, do we need to use captions on the screen?

It's only one person. So, look, I understand there are times when there might be people that get left out or excluded from a process because it's just outside of the realm of what can be included. There'll be those scenarios and situations, but you have to do everything to include everyone as far as possible, right?

Test it. You know, I think what was the...oh, I was talking to someone in a wheelchair yesterday or day before, and he was saying about that he would go to events and there was no way to enter the room. Like, there was nothing. He couldn't get into the event. And he kind of forgave the event in the context of, well, it was in a historical building and, you know, it would've been really hard to put those conditions in.

He didn't forgive it, but he understood it. I said, "Well, I think we need to apply different lens to this." We wouldn't accept racial segregation. We wouldn't accept that someone that was a person of color would be left outside. We just wouldn't. We would have a conniption and have something to say about it. So why is it okay that you got left outside?

It's just not. I understand the argument of, oh, it's all too hard, or it just feels so much and I can't do it for everybody, but think of the implications of not. So that's my argument for it.

- And one thing I would add that I've noticed in my own life too is that often adaptations that are helpful for people who have different accessibility needs are helpful for people who don't have those needs. For example, my husband and I have started...we both have perfect hearing, but we've started using the captions while watching TV.

I don't know why, but it's helpful. And now I notice it when they're not there. So anyway...

- I'm the same. It increases your comprehension, and I think you've made a really, really good point. And working in safety, if you can apply universal design concepts, so if you don't know what universal design is, you can Google it. But you might already know what it is. But it is a design concept that means designing for people with disability. And by doing that, you enhance the design of a product or a solution or a process so that by meeting the needs of someone with a disability or people with a disability, you actually make a better holistic product or process in the end for everybody.

So it's not a bad way to approach it at all.

- So the next one is language. And we did touch on this a little bit, but let's get into it more.

- And as you said earlier, it's exactly what a language is intended to do. So it's making sure that when you are communicating with those that you need to be communicating with is that you're using a language that they understand, that it's not overly complicated. Let's use that scenario you said before about a toolbox talk on-site before the job starts. And if you use a whole bunch of acronyms and complex words in English and half of your team, it's English as a second language, you think you are communicating faster by using those acronyms, for instance, and all you're doing is making it more complex and take a longer for those other individuals to understand what's being communicated.

So there's that. But if you are designing signage, for instance, and you're assuming everyone speaks English or uses the English alphabet and you're using those letters to indicate a safety risk, you need to make sure you are using universal icons, for instance.

You need to simplify what you are presenting, test in different languages and different cultures. That's what language is about.

- I've even heard of companies who've had difficulty getting employees and so have brought in temporary foreign workers, they're called in Canada, I'm not sure in the states. And who have considered hiring ESL tutors for the company for their employees just so that they can get enough people to work for them, right?

- Yes.

- And to help them out with... That's manufacturing, but I can imagine it could be the same for safety.

- Totally. And even if it's not within the safety profession, the workers on the floor in manufacturing, let's say, they need to be able to understand the process and the procedure that needs to be followed that keeps them safe. And to do that, their language and literacy...if the organization can support the development of their literacy or their spoken language in their second language so that they communicate with the person next to them better, I mean, that is only going to benefit the organization and mitigate risk further.

- Okay. So then the next one is respect. And, of course, back to Aretha Franklin, we've talked about respect a lot culturally, what does it mean in terms of action and in terms of inclusion?

- Yeah, good. I'm going to give one simple example that kind of connects itself back to space, and then we'll sort of translate it across. Respect itself is about respecting that people come with a history or a legacy or there are maybe current events going on that are impacting their current identity. So I'm trying to think of the quickest, simplest example.

With space, for example, you wouldn't want to hold an event in a plantation, for instance, in the United States. Because if you held an event there, there is a whole group of people that are going to feel very unsafe. And I don't mean physically...well, actually they might even trigger some physical unsafety for themselves, but it's just not a good place.

And that's not respecting the identity and history of people. Then there's the example of working around current events. You know, whether there is a big current event around changes in legislation that regressing human rights or there are protests going on that affect different identities, we need to understand how that's impacting people in that moment and make choices around what we're delivering, what we're expecting, how we are communicating with people.

It's all around that, so disrespecting that. Oh, another good example might be respecting people during Ramadan and their fasting. If we're running a training session, don't bring the food into the training room for lunch. Put it out somewhere else so that people have to go to collect the food because if you are fasting, there'd be nothing worse than having to be tempted by food in the training room as an example.

- I think that's a great example too, because I think that people who weren't raised Muslim or weren't raised in any tradition where fasting happens, probably wouldn't think of that. And it's not that you're...again, that this is a perfect example of not purposely including someone, or excluding, rather, but if you had just talked to all of your staff, they would've pointed that out because it's a blind spot, right?

- Yeah. Absolutely. I will just actually share as well because it's sort of dietary-related, but also potentially safety-related is that we've gone to a place now where it's totally okay for an event to ask what dietary requirements do you have, right? So, you might be anaphylactic to nuts, so you'll tick, you know, nuts and gluten intolerance because it's celiac, but you also might have kosher needs, you might have halal needs.

There's all these options that you can tick now and we accept that now as the norm. So if we've got to that place with dietary requirements, why isn't every bit of the inclusion needs exactly the same. It's not asking too much just to consider what is it that people need so they can thrive and feel safe in their space.

And I think that's a good argument too, to the idea of, oh, it's just so hard. There's just so much. You can say, well, we have adapted. We're an adaptive species and things have changed to accept... Look at how far we've come in this case in terms of dietary inclusion, right? And it really hasn't cost us a lot.

- No. I will share as well around, since we're on the topic of space, I was in...I might as well share. I was at Sydney Olympics Stadium and it was a tour of underneath the stadium just for the public. Tour around the stadium, the behind the scenes and the story of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

And we were sitting in a room and they were playing a video of like a sort of a montage of the Olympics. There were no captions on the screen. It was tiered seating. There was so many things wrong in that room. And I remember just off the side asking the tour guide going, "Have you considered having captions on the screen just to help with comprehension and people that are hard of hearing."

She said, "Oh, no, we've never had a deaf person here." Now, I say that with a giggle, I wanted to say, you probably haven't had a deaf person here because you don't offer a solution that meets their needs. But the point is, they would've had someone that was hard of hearing there that never got to hear. Oh, yeah.

See, exactly. We put it sort of out of sight out of mind. Well, I don't need a ramp because I've never had someone come here with a wheelchair. Think about it. You didn't have someone with a wheelchair come into your building because they couldn't get in the building in the first place. So, we have to consider all these needs of all people.

- I think there's also the idea of situational disability too, where people think, you know, you're either in a wheelchair or you're not. Well, what about the six weeks when you broke your leg and you were in a cast? Your accessibility needs were different for those...or, you know, for a woman while she's pregnant, things are a little bit different.

- I mean, and extending on that, you know, you have a child that's in a pram, you have different space and physical needs for that. You don't need a wheelchair to have that physical access need. You've got a pram, which has the same access needs as someone in a wheelchair. So yeah, we're on the same page, Mary.

- All right. So the last one in the list of eight is support.

- Yeah. So support is last for a reason because we often find that traditionally diversity and inclusion initiatives in an organization are focused on providing support to people that are underrepresented. There's the leadership program for women or there's I call it celebrations in cupcakes for different identities that it's about providing support to those that underrepresented.

Unfortunately, well, I think it increases desire and awareness and a comradery for those identities. It doesn't actually create inclusion because the people we need to change are the people that aren't that identity. So that's why support's last. But it doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

So we need to do all those other things to make sure we create an environment where everyone can thrive, then support is providing the support that anyone needs to thrive to fulfill their potential. So they could be specialized programs. I use it as simple as if something was up high on a shelf, I'm not overly tall, so I would need a step. You wouldn't question that.

You would give me a step ladder so I could get up to reach what I needed to reach. You wouldn't say bad luck. That's what we're talking about, providing the step when someone needs it.

- So now let's move into the more...not that we haven't been practical at all, but let's move into some of the suggestions that you have for organizations to address these issues, and specifically how they might or might not relate to safety practitioners. So, in your paper, you've got five suggestions that I'd like to kind of go through.

The first one was consolidating DEI efforts. And I'm curious about this because maybe it's possible that safety people might feel like, well, that's not really my purview, but anyway, how would you respond to that?

- So what I'm talking about here is quite often in your organization, you might have existing DEI initiatives that are being led by employee resource groups or reference groups or what might be called ERGs. So you'll have initiatives that are focused on gender, those on race, those on LGBTQI, on disability, so on and so forth.

And that isn't ideal from an enterprise change point of view because they're all trying to actually achieve the same thing. So the recommendation in my paper is to bring them all together, take it up a level, apply the eight needs, and then work together to create inclusion outcomes. From a safety point of view, when we're looking at consultation, if you have to go to each separate identity and focus on including the individual needs of those different identities, you are not incorporating the internationalities of those identities in the way you are viewing things.

So by consolidating and focusing on the eight needs, instead of looking at it one label at a time, you're mitigating that issue and you are approaching it for the needs of all people.

- So you're more, you're more efficient in one sentence, right?

- Totally more efficient. I mean, your solution's going to be better and address the whole person. I mean, I wish I could sit on top of a mountain and shout it out and everyone could hear it at the same time. That would save time and money.

- All right. So, the next one is providing a practical framework in decision-making.

- So the eight needs, of course, I have an intimate understanding of it, and you can get to a place where you can very quickly apply them in every decision that you make. Instead of having to think about 54 different identities and all the multiple intersectionalities, which is completely paralyzing and quite impossible, instead, it's just these eight needs that you need to sense check against when you make decisions.

Is it accessible? Is it a safe space? Am I providing opportunity? Literally just going through down the eight. So by using as a framework in the context of a safety environment, you could be applying it to your creation of a safety process or a standard operating procedure, for instance. Are we making sure that each of those decision points are covering off those eight needs?

And it might. It might just go, yep, we've done, that's good. Or it might highlight some blind spots for you that you need to allow for.

- And, of course, decision-making, that can be in any realm. Certainly, decisions are made in safety all the time or in designing safety systems.

- Correct.

- So the next one is aligning employee resource groups. How is that different from consolidating DEI efforts, or is it part of the same?

- It's a mechanism to align them. So the first one is about the strategic approach to how you do it and how you manage your inclusion transformation. The other is sometimes, unfortunately, it's kind of becomes an identity competition, and that they're fighting for airspace and time.

You need a way to get them all on the same page. And when they realize they all have the same needs with the same objective outcomes, then that's what that is, aligning those ERGs to collaborate together.

- Okay. So now as I'm looking at these things like consolidating DEI efforts, you said that's the sort of the strategic point and aligning the employee resource groups is the practical. So in the same way, providing a practical framework and decision-making, so that's a strategic thing, but you also have listed review existing policies, procedures, and identifying inclusion gaps in the climate of an organization.

So are those the practical or the tactical...?

- Absolutely. So you just apply that framework when you're assessing anything, when you are assessing analysis from an audit, whether you've had a safety incident and you're going back through the steps that led up to that, apply the eight inclusion needs because you might be able to see something that you hadn't thought of before, that you weren't observing from a wider lens.

And then when you are devising mitigations for the future, even when you're looking at the hierarchies of control, which of those hierarchies of control are you putting in place? And when you get to the one that, you know, you are happy to land on, does it still cover off the needs of all people?

If not, like, maybe there is some different levels to that hierarchy of control that you need to apply to meet the needs of different people. I mean, I don't know, I can't profess how beneficial the eight needs are. I want people to know it's not just about creating belonging in an organization. This is about enhancing the outcomes of what you do, if it has anything to do with people.

So safety is inherently about people, protecting people, but also preventing them from making poor decisions that lead to a poor safety outcome. And so if we can build in these inclusion needs into how we educate them on what they need to do, how we set the parameters and standards and expectations for what they have to do, and how we coach and lead them and all of that through that inclusive lens, we're going to create a more safe environment.

- Another question I wonder about is that safety professionals are often or can be limited in how much decision-making power they have for the organization as a whole. For listeners who feel that if they were to go to work and start to push for inclusion frameworks, if they feel that they might be told to stay in the safety lane, because I can see that happening, what would you recommend?

- Two things. Let's start at the micro level. You can make inclusive decisions without approvals from others. You don't need a framework in place. You don't need sign off to make inclusive decisions, to look at your work through an inclusive lens. That is completely within your circle of control. So I really encourage you to do that and start adopting more inclusive thinking and decision-making.

If, however, you're courageous enough to start having that conversation about how to be more inclusive across the organization to get that support, if you have a diversity or inclusion-type council or committee that exists, or if not that, you might have already one group that exists.

There might be like a women in leadership group. Go and align yourself with them. Go and participate. Act as an ally. Start to engage with them in that context, and then start to communicate with them how valuable you can see their efforts and their needs applying to safety in the organization. And then you've also got an ally.

You're providing your allyship and then you're getting an allyship in return. I will add a third one. If the conversation feels that hard and you've got that much pushback, tell them to call me, and I'll have that difficult conversation for you. But I promise I'll do it with a smile - Yep.

That's great. Sometimes the best difficult conversations are taken on by someone else.

- Delegated.

- Yeah, yeah. I know someone who did a fundraiser where you could hire her to say no to someone for you. And she was raising funds for a charity.

- Yeah. I love that.

- Fantastic idea. Well, we're coming near the end of the interview, but I do have some questions that I ask every guest. And I'd like to ask you, what interpersonal skill do you think tomorrow's safety professionals could most benefit from learning or developing?

- Emotional intelligence around self-awareness and self-management, as well as social awareness and social management. So if you don't know what the EQ model is, the self-awareness part is recognizing who you are in the context, your behaviors, how you contribute to the space and the environment, and then how do you manage your emotions, how do you manage how you show up in the space that you turn up, and how you can make sure that that's effective.

But then when we're applying the social awareness is, how are others in the room? How are others experiencing this? And being able to put yourself in their shoes essentially. And that makes you a far better safety professional because you can look at it outside the blinkers of how you would do it or how you see it so that you can actually have like a wider view or perspective.

And then finally, social management is about how do you influence the social environment. I say social, I don't mean a party. I mean, groups of people, masses of people. How do we manage them through doing something differently for a better outcome?

- Those who are at the beginning of their careers look that up. The framework's there. There's lots of discussion about it.

- Yeah, Google it.

- If you could go back in time to the beginning of your career, and I know that you were more focused on safety earlier in your career, if you could go to the time before you started safety or when you were just starting, what's one piece of advice that you might give to yourself?

- I genuinely wish, whether it was in my safety projects or other culture and change projects, I wish I had known more about how to be inclusive of all people in my decision-making. And that might come across as completely biased because I am here talking about inclusion, but I'm not joking. I came up with training and development solutions for career development that I actually think were completely excluding of a whole bunch of different people.

And I wish I could go back and fix that. You know, I implemented capability uplift for safety capability or competency across huge organizations and I just don't think I thought through all of the inclusion needs for a better outcome. I could have been so much more successful by applying that lens. So that is entirely what I would do differently.

- Well, hopefully, you can inspire young and even seasoned professionals to change their ways that way. How can our listeners learn more about the topics in our discussion today? Are there resources that you generally recommend for people who are interested in inclusion?

- Sure. Look, if you're a reader and you do like things like academic papers, you can just google, "The 8-Inclusion Needs of All People," and you'll be able to read the research behind the eight inclusion needs and it lists out those in details. If you are not a reader and you're more of an auditory learner, there is a podcast that I have included with Dr.

Liz and I just interview people with different needs and you get to learn about people in diversity. But by the same token, I'm not an auditory learner, so I've done it as a video podcast. So you can find that video version on Spotify or YouTube as well. And then finally, find me on LinkedIn, let's have a conversation.

- That was my next question is where can people find you on the web? So, LinkedIn is the best spot.

- Yeah, because I'll always get your message.

- Perfect. Well, we're out of time for today. So thanks so much for lending your ideas and expertise and brain and heart to us, Dr. Liz.

- Great conversation today, Mary. Thank you for the time.

- And thanks to our listeners for tuning in. We have had over 20,000 downloads as of the day we're recording this, and it's thanks to you. If you're enjoying Safety Labs, please remember to share, rate, and review it. And I'd also like to include, see what I did there, my thanks to the "Safety Labs by Slice" team. That's all for now.

Have a good day.

Dr Liz Wilson

Dr. Liz Wilson is a behavioral scientist, organizational transformation expert, and founder of Include Inc. She is well known for her authentic, honest, and pragmatic approach to everything she does. This includes her simple, yet powerful, Include Change Method that has achieved amazing results for her clients over the span of her 25+ year career.

Latest episodes