Inclusion at The Social Deck

December 15, 2023
Download transcript (Word) >A screenshot of a virtual meeting featuring nine diverse individuals. The layout is a grid of video feeds, each showing a participant in a different setting, some with bookshelves. At the center bottom, there is a caption in bold text stating "The different experiences and strengths and perspectives," suggesting a discussion about diversity and inclusion. The participants appear engaged and thoughtful.

At The Social Deck, our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is fundamental to who we are. It's part of our project development, community engagement, professional partnerships and workplace culture. Inclusion helps us be the best we can be. The different experiences and strengths and perspectives of our diverse team are a massive asset. So are all the ways we've been able to learn from the people we engage with about bringing everyone into the conversation.

When I became The Social Deck’s inclusion officer, my first job was to develop an inclusion strategy. We wanted to keep inclusion at the forefront and we were keen to put our experience into deliberate action and policy. It's been about two years now since we brought the strategy into operation, so we'd like to share some reflections about how we got here and what's next.

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The strategy reflects what we value at The Social Deck and how we put those values into practice. It covers how we support our team to build capability in inclusive practice, how we promote and advocate for inclusivity with our clients and partners, and the vital role our community partners and subcontractors play in making sure that lived experience is represented and understood at all stages of our projects.

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There's no real formula for setting up an inclusion strategy. Each one should be tailored to the organisation. We identified some key considerations along the way, though, that almost any organisation could start with.

You don't want to reinvent the wheel. So a valuable first step is to look at what resources already exist for best practice inclusion in the field. The Social Deck strategy benefited a lot from guidelines about inclusive, accessible and culturally safe engagement and communications. There was no one exact resource that covered everything we do, everyone we work with and everything we need to know. But the different sources came together to give us a picture of what's appropriate in the spaces we move in.

You can then look at what feedback you've had from the people you work with, the people you serve, the people who are part of your organisation. What they tell you works for them should be the biggest priority. When I was writing our strategy, I'd read a lot about inclusive engagement, but I'd also been in the field engaging with diverse groups. I'd witnessed some of the barriers to people fully participating, as well as some of the things that made it easier for them to have their say. What we picked up directly from people we've worked with absolutely had a big impact on our strategy.

The right strategy also depends on what the workplace is like. For example, workforce quota targets are often useful for big organisations, but aren't really an option for a company as small as The Social Deck. At the same time, we could still identify ways to support inclusion in our recruitment practices. We also needed the strategy to capture things we were already doing to support inclusion in the workplace. For example, many of us had adjustments in place like remote work, flexible hours or job sharing.

Alongside all of this, it was important to work out our goals. The question ahead of us was what would be the ideal? This sounds a bit blue sky, but it can form the basis for what your strategy needs to do in practice. When you picture the ideal inclusive version of your organisation, you can figure out what needs to be in place to get there. Our goals turned into core organisation outcomes and a set of inclusion actions to support them.

Our strategy is a living document. No matter how much of an inclusion expert you grow to be, there's always more to learn. Inclusion relates to everything. It can be complex and is always evolving. I'm always adding new resources and guidance to our strategy. A strategy takes work to maintain, to monitor, to embed in company culture. Our team have found it useful to have video training modules I made to walk them through different parts of the strategy. Like what cultural safety and competency looks like in our work, or how we make our engagements accessible.

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Keep an eye on our blogs page for more tips and resources on inclusive practice and to stay up to date with the latest on the social deck's inclusion journey.

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Alix Harrigan
Impact and Inclusion Consultant
Casey Harrigan
Production Manager