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I have a very painful memory from high school. At the start of one year the girl who had been my best friend since primary school ignored me and went and sat with another group of girls, cooler girls than me, girls with Grolsch bottle tops on their shoes.  ‘What is she doing?’ I thought, they know nothing about Blackadder.  I was baffled and hurt. But in a short time I found more friends who accepted me and could also quote Blackadder by heart.  This is around the same time that my family nick-named me Saffy (see Ab Fab).
This experience was short lived, quite normal and I’m sure you have your own similar experience.  But I remember very clearly how being excluded felt, remember how you felt?  Now imagine though that feeling of not being included, having to pretend to be someone you’re not throughout your whole life (not just for a maths lesson or two) and in significant areas of your life – such as work.
Nueroscientists have discovered that the feeling of not being included stimulates the same part of the brain as physical pain.  They are also helping us to understand the toll that bending yourself to fit in & be included takes on a person- leading to stress, burnout and mental health issues.
The lovely people at mindgym* have a free e-book that you can download at the moment (
In their ebook they quote these statistic –
“61% of employees bend themselves out of shape to fit in at work”
“83%of  LGB individuals bend themselves out of shape to fit in at work”
Yoshino & Smith, 2013.
For this survey this is higher than the statistics for black individuals, women, hispanic individuals and the 45% of heterosexual white men who said they bend themselves out of shape to fit in.
“Businesses with high inclusive engagement have an operating profit almost three times higher (27%) than those that don’t” Towers Watson (2012) Global Workforce Study.
As a leader what are you doing to make sure that people don’t have to bend themselves to fit in? How are you going to make sure that as a leader you promote inclusion?
*For transparency – I don’t know the mindgym people, I’ve never used their product & they haven’t paid me to say nice things (although I am partial to a Jaffa Cake if anyone from mind gym reads this)

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