2023 Equity Challenge Day 18: Inclusion: An Intentional Process to Creating Spaces for All

Inclusion is not a strategy to help people fit into the systems and structures which exist in our societies; it is about transforming those systems and structures to make it better for everyone.

Diane Richler

Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation international fellow and former chair of the International Disability Alliance

Inclusion is a value and practice of ensuring that people feel they belong and that their input is valued by the whole (group, organization, society, system, etc.), particularly regarding decisions that affect their lives. This practice should include authentically bringing traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities and decision/policymaking in a way that shares power to ensure that their needs are considered. Inclusive spaces are those that foster a sense of belonging, respect and dignity for everyone. Inclusion means, “I built this with you in mind. Let’s continue to build it together.” 

To start today’s challenge, we invite you to take a moment to reflect and visualize with us. Please picture a space that you felt a sense of belonging to, a space you felt at ease to be yourself and a space where you could contribute to the group. This could be a physical space in a home, workplace or school. It could be a group of people meeting on shared interests, work projects or even at the check-out in your local grocery store. What specific details made you feel welcomed and engaged? How did people in that space interact with one another? As you move through today, we encourage you to keep that space and those details at the front of your mind. Inclusion will look different for each person, but there are many strategies you can use in your everyday life to create an inclusive space like the one that you visualized. 

Why do inclusive spaces matter? Research has shown that inclusive spaces lead to better outcomes, increased creativity, higher job satisfaction and a stronger sense of community and belonging. 

  • According to a study by Deloitte, organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion in the workplace are more innovative and more likely to have high employee engagement levels. Additionally, inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments. 
  • Inclusive school environments have been found to improve academic outcomes for all students. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, students in inclusive classrooms made greater progress in reading and math than students in non-inclusive classrooms. 
  • Inclusive communities have been found to lead to improved physical and mental health outcomes. According to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, people who live in socially cohesive communities are more likely to be healthy and live longer than those who live in socially isolated communities. 
  • Inclusive sports teams have led to increased participation and enjoyment for all players. According to a study by the University of Alberta, inclusive sports teams that welcome players of all abilities have been found to be more enjoyable and rewarding for all players, regardless of their level of ability. 
  • Inclusive religious spaces have been found to improve mental health outcomes for members of marginalized communities. According to a study by the Journal of Muslim Mental Health, inclusive religious spaces can help reduce feelings of social isolation and improve mental health outcomes for Muslims who experience discrimination and marginalization. 

Inclusive spaces can be created in various settings, such as the workplace, home, school and community organizations. Some strategies for building inclusive spaces include fostering open communication, promoting diversity and cultural awareness, providing training on unconscious bias and actively seeking out diverse perspectives. Inclusion doesn’t happen on accident. To build inclusive spaces, we must be intentional and take steps to ensure that the space is designed to accommodate the diverse needs of everyone who will use it. This includes considering factors such as accessibility, hybrid and remote work arrangements, disability accommodations and more. 

Inclusion can also take place in virtual space. Digital inclusion is an essential component of creating inclusive spaces in today’s world. Digital inclusion recognizes that access to technology and digital resources is critical for success in today’s society. By promoting digital inclusion, we can help bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone has access to the tools and resources they need to succeed. 

We all have a role in developing inclusive spaces in the workplace, our homes, clubs and hobby groups, sports groups, schools, religious spaces, etc. Inclusion should show up in all areas of our lives. Today’s resources will focus on how to build more inclusive spaces that lead to a stronger sense of community and belonging – which yields better outcomes for everyone.  




  • When setting up event spaces, there are many factors to incorporate to build an inclusive and accessible event that welcomes all people. Commit to learning about inclusive event spaces and select items from these toolkits from Detroit Disability Power and The University of Michigan to incorporate in your next in person event, meeting or gathering.

Reflect And Share

  1. What from today is resonating with you the most? Why? 
  2. What is one space/club/group that you can bring lessons learned from today to? 
  3. How will you work to create inclusive spaces? Who are the people that could work with you to create inclusive spaces?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC23