• Inklusiiv

Kicking Off Inklusiiv Journey - What We’ve Learned This Year

Updated: Dec 10, 2020

In our first year as an organization, we’ve learned how both building an organization and building D&I are continuous journeys marked with progress, not perfection. We’ve decided to start sharing the learnings from our own journey to hopefully help and inspire others in their way forward, as well. Our founder Katja Toropainen starts the Inklusiiv Journey series with reflections to our first full year.

Katja Toropainen

At Inklusiiv, we’re wrapping up our first year and reflecting on where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and what we can do better as an organization.

In all, there’s much we can be proud of in our start. Inklusiiv was born to help people and organizations begin their D&I journey, and we’ve focused on sharing knowledge and resources about the importance of D&I in working life. In terms of actions, we’ve taken steps toward this mission by hiring our first employees, building a community, and hosting workshops for companies. Our first year, then, has been a promising one… but it has also been a year of learnings and growth.

Our start has given us valuable questions: we’re now considering what the environment is we want to make an impact in and what our approach to doing so will be. What are the best ways to drive change? Which D&I areas will be our focus? We haven’t crystallized these answers yet, and not doing so this year has led us in multiple directions and, at times, over-stretched our capacity.

At this point in our journey, then, we’re taking time to find more clarity and focus – things which will ultimately impact and strengthen our organization from the inside out.

Our top three learnings

We believe in transparency, and want to share both our journey and learnings more openly. In short, our top 3 learnings this year have been the following – and, yes, we’ll expand on these in upcoming blogs:

1. Clarity, focus and alignment are the backbones of internal D&I done well. These are also areas where we have not been the strongest, and our own D&I has in some ways been under-developed as a result. The very area we came together to champion, then, we’ve been imperfect in ourselves. This realization has made us humble but it has also made us better. We’ve learned that without clarity of direction, it is challenging to focus on the right things and grow D&I as well, when clarity is a conduit for inclusion. Recently, we’ve been spending more time and resources to get more clarity with our mission, vision, purpose and offerings, and we’ll be sharing that journey with you.

2. Fostering inclusion is a continuous process. There is no “arrival” or even universal milestones of “achieving it”. We’ve learned how closely D&I is tied to societal topics, and how much there is to educate ourselves about – e.g. anti-racism, trans experiences, ability and inclusion, etc. We’ve also learned how much continuous learning, unlearning and improvement this area requires and how no organization is ever finally ready – not us and not others. But we’re committed to learning and developing in these areas every single day.

3. Internal D&I needs strategic prioritization and resources, and we as a new organization have been battling with this too! It’s a huge, broad and complex topic - how to get it all done? Where to start? How to prioritize and make room for progress with limited resources? What are the right and most necessary actions for your organization? We have a lot to improve, but we’ve finally found new approaches for this too. We are looking forward to sharing our learnings in the hope of helping any other newly-born organizations to overcome the common challenges.

Overall, we’ve realized that we can and are committed to being better. As an organization, we’re not perfect - but progress, not perfection, is our goal. And we feel we need to set an example in this space.

As an organization, we’re not perfect - but progress, not perfection, is our goal.

One way to do that is to be more transparent about our own D&I - what we are doing, how we are improving, and who we are as an organization. To that end, we’re launching a mini blog series, Inklusiiv Journey, unpacking our learnings and introducing much-needed clarity about Inklusiiv as we build it.

Behind the blogs, our entire team will be helping to shape our essentials – our mission, vision, values, and offerings – and you’ll see these updated on our website and reflected in our actions. Further, we’ll be sharing about our process of gaining clarity, as well as how we develop our practices and competences in D&I. We believe that inclusion development should be transparent, and we welcome you to join and follow along.

D&I is here to stay

We’re still processing our learnings from this year, but what we already know for sure is that D&I topics are more important than ever: they’re only becoming bigger parts of business strategies and leadership competencies, and we’re more excited and determined than ever to grow ourselves in these areas while supporting others to do so, as well.

Our first year has given us important lessons, and we want to translate our learnings from them into action for improvement. We welcome you to grow and learn along with us.

Katja Toropainen

founder of Inklusiiv

With special thanks to Laura Smith for helping us think through and organize these thoughts this week.