The status quo is no longer good enough

It's a fundamental right to earn a paycheck in a Safe and Inclusive work environment. Yet, it is 2020, and we continue to struggle. Take Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as an example. Most PPE designs are for the average male [1]. The CDC recently highlighted an Inclusion Challenge with the ill-fitting PPE. Over 73% of the healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 were female due to ill-fitting masks [2]. These most recent facts and the ticking time bomb of civil unrest have become a massive locomotive demanding change. We have failed and will continue to fail unless we take programmatic steps towards implementing Inclusion Programs as rigorous as our Safety Programs. Historically, successful implementations of Workplace Safety required a recognition that the status quo was no longer good enough [3,4]. Similar to the Workplace Safety movement in the 90's, what will it take to say “not good enough?" In hopes to reduce any fear towards the changes required for a better status quo, this blog outlines a basic set of Inclusion Programming principles from the world of athletics that are easily relatable to some of the Safety Programming Principles already in place today. 

John Wooden QuoteIn sports, a leader's effectiveness accounts for their ability to elicit maximum effort from their team to provide maximum results. A coach's ability to effectively foster positive team behaviors and outcomes -- "team identity" or "us" -- has a direct correlation to the ability to win championships. In contrast to traditional leadership training that concentrates on the traits and skills of a leader, coaches activate and cultivate Inclusion. They achieve high returns in the overall safety, health, and well-being of their people, resulting in increased effort, reduced burnout, and championships [5].

2020 presents a unique opportunity to change the way we think about Inclusion. Like athletic teams, when we use a programmatic approach to raising the identity of the group, we can then achieve maximum results. This blog aims to communicate Basic Inclusion Programming Principles that any leader can apply to their work environment starting today. These principles do not replace Diversity Programming. This blog's scope remains solely on an idea for Inclusion Programming that utilizes some of the already established Safety Programming Principles to raise the potential for success.

Safety Programming Principles
Today, many organizations use either Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) or Human and Organizational Performance (HOPS) to drive the Safety Culture. No matter what an organization subscribes to, like sports teams, the critical component is behavior [6,7].
Safety Culture Dimensions Another critical component to programming includes visual scorecards like the "Safety Triangle" for reporting, coaching, and rewarding the correct behaviors. In Diagram 2, Heinrich's pyramid shows how a focus on “near misses” requiring no first aid (bottom of the pyramid) leads to a reduction of major injuries/fatalities (top of the pyramid). Safety TrianglesHeinrich’s pyramid is now often referred to as the "Safety Triangle." It is modified and displayed by organizations to drive their safety culture. Diagram 3 is an inverted example of bringing more attention to proactive mitigation towards day-to-day behavior.

Inclusion Programming Principles
As leaders/coaches of our teams, there is an opportunity to stand on the sideline and observe opportunities to elicit maximum effort. This blog highlights two main Inclusion Programming principles to drive maximum effort.

The Role of Unconscious Bias in Team Identity
The dictionary definition of a Bias is "a prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another usually in a way that's considered to be unfair." Biases come from individuals, groups, or institutions. There are two types:

  • Conscious bias - also known as explicit bias or prejudice
  • Unconscious bias - social rules that form outside their conscious awareness

It is important to note that biases, conscious, or unconscious are not limited to ethnicity and race. One's age, gender, gender identity, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, weight, and many other characteristics are subject to bias. Everyone holds both conscious and unconscious beliefs that stem from marketing, social media, the news, personal experiences, and how we grew up.
It is also important to note that unconscious biases are far more prevalent than prejudice. An individual is not “bad” or “evil” to have them. The opportunity is to be aware and take proactive action towards elevating the identity of the team.

Eliciting Maximum Effort
There are several models and quite a few coaching books that talk about eliciting maximum effort. For this blog's sake, we designed a simple Input, Activities, and Results Diagram to demonstrate a technique to identify Inclusion Opportunities. While observing the team's activities, the intent is to see each individual and how they are or are not contributing to the group's identity.

SeeHerWork Inclusion Diagram

Diagram 4 – Inclusion Programming Principle of “I see you.”

If an individual is not operating as a part of the team, then the entire team's results suffer. This principle leaves organizations an opportunity to explore the inputs into the activities. They may include unconscious biases by the individual, another individual, the leader, the group, or the institution. They may require additional inputs such as additional training, team building, or tools. Like athletic teams that are results-focused, it is not hard to communicate the power of Inclusion when the individual identities supersede the group's identity. It is the leaders' job to evaluate and elevate the team's activities to elicit maximum results.

Stepping into Inclusion Programming

Step 1: Inquire

  • With Customers - Do your customers care about Inclusion? If they do and you don’t, then you may be missing out on business.
  • With Employees – Are the inputs (including unconscious biases) getting in the way of group's identity, innovation, or higher performance? Do we continue to assume that all PPE is terrible? What if it wasn’t?
  • With Suppliers – Are suppliers passionate about Inclusion? What are you willing to change in your processes and product purchases to have an impact?

Step 2: Set and track attainable goals

Similar to our Safety Programming Principles, would an individual operating in a silo (not with the team) be considered at-risk behavior or a near-miss? What about individual's not stepping in to stop another teammate when they are operating outside of the agreed norms? Would the lack of "stop work authority" be considered an injury to the group's and possibly the institution's identity? What other measurements could be taken into consideration?

Step 3: Clarify roles and tasks

Meet with your team members one-on-one to communicate the priorities and expectations for Inclusion in their roles. Help them estimate the time they should devote towards raising the group identity and the results you seek to achieve. And finally, get out of the way and move into a coaching role.

Step 4: Communicate, communicate, communicate

Develop a culture of trust in your team by sharing regular observations and asking for their observations. Ask about the challenges they face and talk about what inputs they might need to increase productivity. Team resources can include additional training, team building, or tools.

Step 5: Don’t stop. Ever. 

It’s an evolution, not a revolution. Standing up rigorous programs require time. Be patient, but don’t ever stop inquiring, tracking, clarifying, and communicating.


  1. Pugh, R. (2020, May 4). COVID-19 PPE Gender Divide: No One-Size-Fits-All? Retrieved from:
  2. Stuckey, Matthew J. for the CDC COVID-19 Response Team (2020, Apr 14). Characteristics of Health Care Personnel with COVID-19 (CDC). Retrieved from:
  3. Brown, Don. 3 Turning Points in the History of Workplace Safety. (2014 Aug). Retrieved from:
  4. OSHA Celebrates 40 years of accomplishments in the Workplace. OSHA (2010). Retrieved from:
  5. Mark Stevens, Tim Rees, Niklas K. Steffens, S. Alexander Haslam, Pete Coffee, Remco Polman (Jul 11, 2019). Leaders’ creation of shared identity impacts group members’ effort and performance: Evidence from an exercise task. Retrieved from:
  6. OSHA (2002-2005). Introduction to Practical Behavior-Based Safety. Retrieved from:
  7. Gaddis, Scott. (2018 Jun 6). The 5 Basic Principles of HOP (Human and Organizational Performance). Retrieved from:

Final Thoughts from the Author

Jane Henry After 20 years for Management of Change (MoC) and Executive Coaching experience in both Energy and Healthcare to implement transformational programming, I am shocked at the Inclusion challenges that remain. The number of female healthcare workers contracting COVID-19 combined with the Civil Unrest is a clear indication that the status quo is no longer good enough. To quote a good friend, respected community leader, and teacher, Mr. Richard Miles, “Real change starts with the institutions”.

Please know that I fully recognize the state of our current ever-changing environment. This blog is a call for Strategic Capacity Building. Those institutions that take these basic principles to heart and are willing to invest in making changes during these uncertain times will be winning markets in the years to come. We will do our part by providing downloadable tool kits and other programming opportunities. We appreciate your support and willingness to take steps towards a new status quo. Let’s make history together.

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