Defining Inclusion

Today I’m turning to Diversity Journal to help me establish my definition of inclusion.

First of all, we need to understand diversity. Essentially, diversity means ‘all the ways we differ’ – anything that makes us unique comes under this heading.

Inclusion, however, involves bringing together and harnessing these diverse forces and resources, in a way that is beneficial.

Inclusion puts the concept and practice of diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect and connection—where the richness of ideas, backgrounds and perspectives are harnessed to create business value.

For the purposes of my blog, I am refining inclusion further, using ‘social inclusion’, as defined by Bates and Davis (2004): ‘ensuring that people with learning disabilities have full and fair access to activities, social roles and relationships directly alongside non-disabled citizens.’ I’ll expand this more broadly to mean all people identifying as having a disability that has the potential to exclude them from full participation in society.

As you know, my passion and commitment leans towards full participation in the employment sector, because I believe that through employment all other life goals can be achieved, be it a full social life, entering a relationship, supporting your family, enjoying travel, pursuing further education, partaking in hobbies and other passions, or owning your own home.

So my working (ahem!) definition of workplace inclusion reads thus:

Inclusion creates the conditions to seek information about, apply, receive job offers and maintain employment for people who identify as having a disability that has the potential to exclude them from full participation in society.

It sure is a mouthful and will probably be revised over time. But I'm putting it out there to add my voice to the wirters and thinkers and change makers who have come before me.

During the past three decades an informal network of writers have shown how support can be provided to people with disabilities to enable employment rather than attend a sheltered workshop, live in their own home rather than in a hostel, and participate in friendships and community life with a diverse array of citizens, rather than conducting their whole lives within segregated settings, (Wolfensberger, 1972; O’Brien, 1987; Falvey et al., 1994; Rusch & Hughes, 1989). I’d like to honour these writers and thinkers and change makers.

Let’s join them.

 - Martin Wren