The social capital that comes from inclusion

I’m pleased to see that the next generation of workers coming through seem to value social capital. More than anyone, many want to work for a company with an ethos that aligns with their beliefs and ethics. Although they may not stay as long with a single employer as previous generations, there’s an expectation that while they’re with you, they’ll fit in with your values – and you’ll fit theirs.

According to Robert Putman (2000), social capital is: social networks and norms of trust and reciprocity. In any organisation, when these are aligned, things really start to happen.

Employers who implement and maintain an inclusive workplace can not only benefit both in terms of workplace functioning and productivity, but often also in terms of market and public appeal.

Think about it. Just as a complementary set of skills among staff makes for a strong workplace, so does a set of values that aligns. We don’t have to all think the same. In fact, at NOVA, our best work usually comes from free and robust discussions about the things that matter.

Many employers seem to implicitly understand the value of ‘being seen to be’ an inclusive business. Unfortunately, on occasion, we even get requests from employers asking for a worker who ‘looks disabled’. (I’m not kidding – we do!)

Yet the value of actually being inclusive cannot be underestimated.

As Inclusive Employers describes it, ‘The greater the mix of people in your business, the greater the mix of skills, experiences, perspectives and ideas you can draw on.' As well, studies indicate that many consumers (87%, in a national U.S. survey) prefer to work with or spend money in businesses that include employees with disabilities, (Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University).

Inclusive practices also reduce the risk of disputes and tribunals. Reduced sick leave benefits productivity. Anecdotally, employers tell me time and again of the improved staff morale from employing a person with disability in their teams.

No wonder we’re striving to make it happen!

Next blog – how to make it happen

- Martin Wren