Social inclusion refers to the process of improving people’s ability and opportunity to participate in society on equal terms, regardless of their origin or identity.
What is social inclusion?
As defined by the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, an inclusive society is a “society for all’. This means that every individual has the same rights and responsibilities, and an active role to play within their societies.
Differences such as race and ethnicity, gender, class or geography have no bearing on a person’s right to achieve their full potential in life. Instead, a socially inclusive society is one that is based on a mutual sense of belonging and respect.
Why social inclusion is important
In every society, there are communities that are systematically excluded from participating in economic, social and political life. These barriers arise from discriminatory ideas, beliefs and attitudes regarding race, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation and other factors.
Structural disadvantage makes it harder for societies to achieve sustainable growth and reduce poverty. Left unaddressed it can result in losses of human capital wealth and gross domestic product (GDP).
Different types of social inclusion
Social inclusion is basically about promoting equal participation and opportunities for all individuals in society.
Below are some different types of social inclusion.
Gender equality means people of all gender identities have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. In a socially inclusive society, women and men can contribute to and benefit from socioeconomic development, regardless of their gender identity.
Both social inclusion and gender equality are multidimensional processes that strive to break down systemic barriers and discriminatory biases.
Economic inclusion is based on the concept that all individuals have the same rights to safe and affordable financial products and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Owning a bank account is a basic step toward economic inclusion, but having the same access to labor markets is also important. At the core of economic inclusion is giving marginalized households and communities the tools to be in control of their own incomes and assets.
Inclusive education is about giving all children the same learning opportunities, regardless of race, ethnicity or language. This includes people with disabilities, who should have access to quality education that meets their individual needs, and lifelong learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Bridging the digital divide is one of the most important challenges in this era of globalization. Digital inclusion is the idea of making sure that all individuals have equal access to information and communication technologies. Enabling people to fully participate in the digital age is a key part of promoting social inclusion.
Social inclusion in the workplace
Organizations are responsible for creating an inclusive working environment for all employees, irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, age or class. A socially inclusive workplace can often achieve higher levels of productivity and benefit from a wide range of perspectives that contribute to improve the organization’s overall business performance.
Here are some tips for creating a more socially inclusive workplace:
- Address and remove biases: Unconscious biases often result in others being treated differently and less favorably. In order to address and mitigate the negative effects of biases in the workplace, it is important to identify the signs through feedback, peer-to-peer recognition and transparency.
- Inclusion training programs: Holding company-wide inclusion training programs can help identify biases and address them more effectively. Diversity training is also a powerful tool for promoting respectful and constructive relations in the workplace.
- Incorporating inclusivity policies: Inclusivity policies, sometimes called equal opportunity policies, is key to establishing an institutional framework that promotes fairness, diversity and equal treatment in the workplace. These policies outline what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t, and how any potential issues will be addressed. It is important to include employees in the development of inclusivity policies. This can be done through feedback surveys, focus groups and open forums where employees can share their experiences and insights.