Inclusivity and Growth Mindset: Why You Need to Cultivate Both

July 9, 2020
4 Min Read
Photo by
Sarah Bürvenich

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president of the Society for Human Resource Management said, “We often forget the ‘i’ in the diversity and inclusion conversation. The challenge is in having a culture where all employees feel included.”

He’s right. Inclusion shouldn’t be confined to a specific day or month. Instead, fostered it into our daily lives. To understand inclusion, we need to understand and get to the root of unconscious biases and issues that professionals face. So, how do we do that? Well, it starts with you and shifting your fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Before we jump in, take a peek at our inclusiveness skill guide. It includes examples of inclusive leaders, the do's and don'ts, and types of professionals that can benefit from practicing inclusivity.

Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, coined the terms fixed and growth mindset. She was curious why some individuals were successful at achieving their goals while others fell short. After decades of research and observing the attitudes and behaviors of several students, Dweck came to a conclusion. It was all about an individual's mindset.

Dweck quoted how, “growth mindset people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”

She goes onto to describe how fixed mindset people, “believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong.”

How can a fixed mindset impact inclusion

What do our mindsets have to do with inclusivity? Everything! They have everything to do with inclusion. It's our attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets that fuel our actions. And often those actions can make individuals to feel excluded and unsafe.

We can agree that racial prejudices and stereotypes can be tied back to a fixed mindset. It’s based on the idea that a group has “fixed” traits. These thoughts or unconscious biases can unknowingly shape a company's culture. It can impact the chances of a professional getting hired, promoted, or even receiving constructive feedback. More importantly, a fixed mindset marginalizes professionals which leads to an unsafe work environment.

However, a 2009 ResearchGate study found that developing a growth mindset can reduce stereotypes by attributing them to external factors. It's cultivating this mindset to help us understand that our identities and attitudes aren’t are confined or permanent. We are consistently evolving.  

How to incorporate a growth mindset into inclusion

We know how a growth mindset helps us overcome work paralysis and setbacks, but let’s apply that same practice when it comes to inclusion in the workplace.

Educate yourself. Part of developing a growth mindset is educating yourself. That means reading, listening, and understanding perspectives that differ from your own. Take a look at the image courtesy of Maria Sosa, a holistic health expert. She states, “Anti-racism work is human growth work.” Sosa shows how we can flip our fixed mindsets to growth ones when educating ourselves on issues regarding race, prejudices, and injustices.

Holistic health expert, Maria Sosa, shares tips on ways to switching up your mindset when educating yourself on injustices and inclusivity. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Use inclusive language. Another growth mindset strategy is cracking down on your colloquialisms. Work on developing inclusive language that is gender-neutral and reflects a diverse group of people. Instead of starting out a meeting or email with “Hi guys,” try “Hi everyone” or “Hi y’all.”

Don’t be a bystander. When you speak out against injustices happening in your workplace, you’re making your peers feel seen and heard. Don’t be afraid to address or callout behaviors that negatively impact those around you.

In a growth mindset, we understand that mistakes don’t define us. They are part of the human experience that help us grow. More importantly, a growth mindset helps us drive out biased thoughts and behaviors. Let’s start pivoting the conversation to ensure the workplace is fair and inclusive of everyone.

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