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  • Writer's pictureBarry Michael Aldridge

The Importance of National Inclusion Week

Loughborough-based Flotec, a trusted and leading supplier of hydraulic, pneumatic and pipeline products to industry, embraces national inclusion week.

Week commencing 25th September 2023 marks the beginning of National Inclusion Week, with the theme being to ‘Take Action and Make an Impact’.

A bold statement and one which needs to be addressed. Here, Flotec’s Head of Marketing Barry Michael Aldridge discusses the importance of inclusion.

A montage of Flotec employees.

“Inclusion is so much more than a topical theme or ‘buzz word’ but more, an intrinsic necessity for society at large.

Unfortunately, far too many businesses and organisations jump on the ‘band wagon’ for no more reason than to act as a publicity ‘stunt’ or ‘tick boxes’ to satisfy shareholders rather than protect the wellbeing of their employees.

In 2021, Flotec publicly announced its shift towards becoming an employee-owned enterprise. For me, this marked an incredibly exciting time in my career and presented an opportunity of which, I had never experienced before.

It was just a few months prior, during some quiet thinking time between Christmas and the New Year, that I had penned the mission statements and core values for the business.

One of the Flotec core values focusses upon belonging, empowerment, ownership, and accountability:

  • To be a culture of diversity, inclusivity, creativity, innovation, teamwork, and family.

  • For each person to feel valued, appreciated and belonging to the Flotec culture, its shared mission, and values.

  • Each person to feel empowered and take ownership and accountability of their work.

  • To acknowledge, celebrate and reward successes and achievements.

It felt completely organic and natural for me to write such words about Flotec as I felt them to be incredibly true.

I have worked in large, stale, and antiquated corporate environments where ‘visions’ and ‘statements’ are dictated from above and expected to be adhered to out of fear of retribution if they are not.

Flotec, I think, is uniquely different, magical, and special. With just over twenty employees, we are small enough to know each other very well and more, care about our collective wellbeing.

When I set about writing the mission and values for Flotec, the team was at the forefront of my mind. My words needed to be inclusive and complimentary for all of us.

Having worked for organisations of all sizes, it is SME’s that resonate the closest to my heart.

According to statistics, small to medium enterprises make up 99.9% of the UK private sector with Flotec being classified as a small business, employing under 49 staff members.

So, why my affection for SME’s? I believe that smaller companies with close-knit teams pull together out of necessity and are not distanced or separated by working in departmental silos.

At Flotec, we pretty much all share the same working space. Open communication and collaboration occur naturally.

Being an employee-owned trust helps create an inclusive culture.

Back in 2017, I wrote in one of my regular blogs, ‘inclusion feels incredibly important to me’. This remains true and forever will be.

At the time, I had just experienced mobbing, often referred to as ‘bullying on steroids’ and was coming to terms with being the victim of a hate crime. This incident changed me forever, it ruined my marriage and I had to learn to adapt, be resilient and persevere.

The ordeal caused me great personal harm but as somebody recently told me, I am no longer a victim but now a survivor.

I have seen people do some nasty things and even go as far as to metaphorically ‘sell their souls’ just to climb some ‘fictitious corporate ladder’. This behaviour does not sit well with my personal ethics, and I have made a very conscious decision never to return to that toxic culture, often driven from the top and forced down.

A younger me would have written corporate social responsibility documents merely to win a contract and chase bonuses where now, having been a first-hand victim of hate crime, the experience has completely changed my perception of the business case for ethics.

I am not into ‘ticking corporate boxes’ and have many thoughts about the need to align shareholder and stakeholder capitalism.

In January of this year, I set up Hate Aware, a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to change behaviour for the benefit of individuals and society. The marketer in me calls this activity social marketing.

As the Hate Aware strapline says, hate crime is bad for people, bad for communities, bad for society, and bad for business.

I often talk openly and candidly about the events that occurred to me as I believe it is an important subject to be discussed. Perpetrators often overlook what I call ‘the ripple effect’.

Their behaviour didn’t just affect me, it also hurt my family, friends, colleagues, and associates.

I joined Flotec in January 2020 at arguably the most disruptive time in modern history.

COVID began exerting its formidable force and the world was plunged into lockdown.

What I saw in Flotec was a team of people who pulled together, adapted, flourished, and ultimately, ‘weathered the storm’.

I feel blessed and fortunate to work for Flotec. When it comes to inclusion, we all simply ‘get’ it.

In 2021, Flotec’s very own Chloe Lofthouse and Sophie Wright took it upon themselves to undertake a FAQ Level 2 Award in Mental Wellbeing.

Chloe Smith has just started a CIPS Level 4 Diploma in Procurement and Supply and is also planning to undertake a government funded Counselling course for the benefit of Flotec employees and our wider stakeholder groups.

In August of this year, I completed an official Chartered Institute of Marketing course in EDIEquality, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Flotec is a shining example of what it is to be an inclusive company and demonstrates the benefits of being so.

There are plenty of statistics to say that equitable, diverse, and inclusive teams foster innovation, and this is true of Flotec.

I fully support National Inclusion Week and urge everyone to take action and make an impact.”

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