Inclusion in its truest sense – the ability to be open to the full spectrum of experiences, ideas and backgrounds – is about more than tolerance and acceptance. It can unlock ingenuity and offer incredible human and societal value.
History has repeatedly proven that ingenuity sparks when people with diverse views, different experiences and unique perspectives combine and collaborate. Motown became one of the most successful independent record companies of all time by taking the experience of the Ford production line and applying those principles to music. And countless inventors and engineers have drawn inspiration from the natural world in the design of amazing solutions to complex problems.
At PA, we also see the benefits inclusive and diverse thinking brings as we’ve built our culture around it. It’s a culture that tracks all the way back to our early days when we brought in new skills and shifted the working landscape by training women in factory jobs as men went off to war. This continued through the 70s when we opened one of the first ever open-plan offices to promote interdisciplinary working at our Global Innovation and Technology Centre. Since then, our diverse team of experts has found ways to predict equipment failures weeks in advance using artificial intelligence, eliminated plastic waste from tea bags by tacking a fresh view of the world’s favourite hot drink, and improved care for COVID-19 patients by developing a digital system for matching doctors with hospitals in need.
Some claim inclusivity and collaboration lead to teams settling for the middle ground, losing direction and momentum. But you don’t know what mediocrity looks like until you’re open to the full breadth of potential ideas. By rejecting diverse opinions, you’ll simply be settling for comfort and safety. Ingenuity means risk-taking, embracing differences and reaching for opportunities. It requires reaching outside your natural habitat. It means balancing thoughtfulness and reflection with being open to new possibilities and unexplored potential. And it means being yourself, unashamedly.
And yet there’s no doubt there’s still a long way to go, both across society and within organisations. To unlock ingenuity, we must create a culture where everyone can bring their whole self to work. That’s why our Pride, BAME and Women’s networks are so important to PA. Together with the right policies, governance and leadership, these forums and communities enable action from the ground up, empower change and enable individuals and teams to create brilliant outcomes with a mindset of open ingenuity. And it’s why we continue to march with Pride: to give people the courage to be who they want to be; to campaign against discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity; to include everyone and support the LGBTQ+ community; to commemorate those who’ve fought for our rights for over 50 years; and to celebrate how far we’ve come.
While spikes of intolerance in society present a threat to liberal attitudes, we see much to be proud of. At PA, we’re taking a people-centred approach – empowering our people to make change, providing mentoring and coaching support and setting commitments for managers to build more inclusion and openness in their teams. As we continue striving to meet our Inclusion & Diversity ambitions, we’re eager to ensure we promote inclusivity of both people and ideas.
‘Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance’, the oft-heard saying goes. In fact, true inclusion isn’t waiting to be asked to do anything. It’s collaborating with others at the party on something new and ingenious. That’s why it’s time to reject binary thinking, broaden our mindsets and harness the ingenious possibilities of inclusivity.
Find out how PA people promote diversity and support the next generation