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An inclusive organisation

An inclusive organisation is an organisation that is able to bring the diversity of talents and abilities in the labour market to its full potential in a sustainable way. Inclusive organisations allow every employee to contribute to the operating result to their own capacity. This, in turn, allows inclusive organisations to employ people with disabilities and limitations and keep them employed in a sustainable manner. It also helps to prevent employees with limitations due to illness or aging from having to leave the company or even the labour market prematurely (Nijhuis, Mulders, & Zijlstra, 2011).

Characteristics of an inclusive organisation

An inclusive organisation is adaptive and strives towards an inclusive organisational climate

An inclusive organisation being adaptive means that it aligns its division of labour, coordination, management style and coaching with the differences and changes in the available work force, both inside (current employees) and outside (people searching for jobs) the organisation. For that reason, an inclusive organisation is able to:

  • employ people who are unable to independently participate in the current labour market in a productive way and keep them employed sustainably;
  • prevent employees from leaving the company or the labour market prematurely because of limitations due to illness or aging or because they no longer meet the necessary job qualifications.

An inclusive organisational climate presumes a workplace environment that allows for inclusivity. To achieve this, an organisation needs to be flexible; it should recognise that not everyone is the same, wants the same thing(s) or is even able to do the same things, and create an environment in which everyone can flourish in order to collectively get the best results in terms of production or service.

To become inclusive, an organisation must go through a more radical change than when, for example, a diversity policy is implemented. In the case of a new diversity policy, it is not immediately necessary to organise work differently to prevent people from being excluded based on personal characteristics such as race, gender, gender identity, or age. Rather, changing selection and promotion policies (to not or positively discriminate against these features) and actively influencing the culture within the organisation to promote and normalise diversity, are usually enough in this case. Of course, a policy to promote diversity and eradicate exclusion mechanisms such as stereotyping and stigmatising is definitely helpful when it comes to including people with disabilities and limitations. Since this kind of a diversity policy, however, only tackles the changing of behaviour and mentality, it does not help in terms of giving these people a chance at sustainable participation in the labour market. In order to fully include and (re-)integrate people with disabilities or limitations, and those who don’t have the necessary qualifications (anymore), it is necessary to organise work differently as well. Work needs to be adapted to the possibilities and ambitions of these employees and people looking for jobs, and their limitations and vulnerabilities need to be taken into account. The status quo, therefore, must change and work must be redesigned. For this reason, CIAO uses the definition of an inclusive organisation coined by Nijhuis, Mulders and Zijlstra (2011), in which diversity of talent and capacity and organisation of work take centre stage.


Read more:

Inclusion as business solution - A PowerPoint presentation in English by Henny Mulders


The integration of people with a distance to the labour market is important

Mariëtte Hamer, chair of the Socio-Economic Council, explains why in a conversation with Hans Spigt (in Dutch).