What, Actually, IS “Inclusion”? 12 Apr 2014

Queen Maxima.I came across a LinkedIn post about Queen Maxima of The Netherlands delivering a keynote address at the European Investment Conference organized by Morningstar. I found it very interesting, as Her Majesty was highlighting that 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to financial services. She advocated having inclusive financial practices so that these 2.5 billion people would also have what people in the so-called “developed” world (my paraphrase) have in terms of those financial services, and which they take for granted. She said that this was something which the financial services sector ought to take note of and prepare for. My thought is that whatever your opinions of the Dutch East India Company, or the British East India Company, for that matter, Her Majesty articulated a noble and worthy goal. I will include the links at the end of this article so that you can read both the post and Her Majesty’s address for yourself.

While profit-driven models push prices upwards by reason of exclusion, inclusion seeks to benefit everyone by bringing genuine value to the table. This is the reason why businesses stay in business; it is because of the value they bring with them, which makes the beneficiaries want them to stay. Businesses whose sole aim is profit have no business being in business. Inclusion does not mean that prices come down overall. Rather, it simply means that there is a fair exchange of value between two or more trading partners. It means trading in luxuries rather more than in necessities. It means having local businesses and global networks.

However, as Queen Maxima also pointed out, inclusion is not without risk. Just as our nasal passages filter the air we breathe in, and as we choose what to eat and drink, so also inclusion does not mean the automatic admission of anyone and everyone into a given system, whether of financial services or otherwise. In fact, just as we need to rid our bodies of waste continuously, just as we need to remove tumours and gangrenous extremities, so also do we need to remove deleterious attitudes, beliefs and actions from those we would want to include in our systems. In the worst case, the perpetrators would have to be excluded. Exclusivity comes into play when toxicity rises.

However, the nature of people is such that exclusivity is actually coveted. Think about how much people are willing to spend on things which are “exclusive” or “limited edition”, for example. No matter what people profess in terms of altruism and putting others first, the urge to be “one-up” over others is overpowering. Given the chance, everybody wants to rule the world. So, how do we best be “inclusive”?

AdoptMy take is that it is actually very simple. Being inclusive is like taking in orphans for adoption, even, and especially if, you have children of your own. It is never for selfish reasons, but is always for the good of the adopted. If you are a true adopter of children, you would always have the view that you are a steward, taking care of what rightfully belongs to someone else until that someone is ready to take over. In this case, I find most laws relating to adoption to be very silly and only pandering to the selfish desires of many who adopt children for reasons of self-interest.

To be inclusive, we need to be willing to:

1.         Recognize that we need to develop people.

This means that we must be willing to truly release them to fulfill their own calling in life and not expect anything in return. Any benefits we might accrue are purely secondary. Our main aim must be to develop them as people, not develop them so they can become our staff.

2.         Reject freeloaders.

Getting the right people on the bus is supremely important here. We need to recognize that poverty is a result of many factors, of which one is slothfulness followed by greed. Yes, people exploit other people. People who are lazy and covetous lend themselves to being exploited by others quite readily. We need to continuously be on the lookout for freeloaders and take them out of our system if they persistently refuse to change for the better.

3.         Support their success.

Celebrate when they get it right, and be willing to remain as a mentor in that regard. Constantly seek opportunities for them to grow, and be there if they need a helping hand.

4.         Grow yourself continuously.

Airline safety instructions tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. You need to recognize your need for continuous growth and self-development. How else would you be of any use to those you are trying to help?

It is highly laudable that we would want to be inclusive. Just remember that we need to get our attitudes right, and set the stage for the success of those we think of including.

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