Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Accessibility are important for all independent coworking spaces. Independent coworking spaces are close to their community and it is important that they consider and embrace all the members of their surrounding communities and so lead in making them more accessible and diverse. This kind of leadership is important.
It is also clear from the research in this area that consciously choosing to foster a diverse community within a business, drives revenue. As it happens, the most sustainable choice is also the choice that most easily creates abundance. By being non-inclusive and non-diverse – that is, by choosing not to be mindful of the whole picture in their city or town – coworking spaces actually limit their target market to less than half, possibly a third, of the potential target market.
Coworking in many ways ultimately originates from hospitality, meaning that coworking spaces are already aligned with base values like being welcoming and inclusive. If a coworking space is non-accessible and non-inclusive, then fewer people are bound to make use of that space, which means that what we do not see and look at can mean that we are missing opportunities.
Speaking up for the marginalised
People who are not marginalised, need to be the ones speaking up for those who are marginalised and especially in the places where we are heard and they are not. We’re the ones who can more easily speak and be heard.
But the reason we need to do this is not to help the ‘helpless’ others. Quite the contrary; it is not that they need us. It is that we are in many ways in the pickle we are in because we need them. We can’t do without the people that we have marginalised. They add value with solutions and resources to our already complex and urgent problems. When we allow margalised members to step into our coworking spaces and be centered there, we give our spaces a better chance of survival.
They bring more creativity, more solutions, and more ideas into our coworking spaces. They ensure that we stay up to date and that we stay relevant. The only way we will be able to have a completely inclusive space, is if we first have a look at and then let go of our biases and discrimination.
How to create an IDEA space
Integrating IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) in coworking space means just this: to look, think, and identify ways in which the space can be more inclusive. This type of space can grow revenue, but how do we ensure that a space is inclusive?
Understanding the community
First of all, it is important to understand your coworking space and your communities. When you completely understand your community, it becomes far easier for them to ensure that the space is inclusive to all.
The best way to do this is by collecting data. Set up surveys and ask the community members to take part in these surveys, anonymously. When coworkers respond to a survey anonymously, they are far more likely, to be honest.
The data collected can create a clear image of the community and what they expect from the coworking space. It is also advisable to find out about the people who are not your coworkers but are in the larger community: do some research online, go to a few open houses, identify those who you are not reaching, and reach out to the groups they are members of.
Coworking spaces should be conscious and mindful about how they communicate, internally and externally, with their coworkers. Without noticing it, there are many ways in which people can be made to feel that they are excluded without that being the intention.
For instance, having a line in a newsletter: “each coworker will be allowed to bring his/her child to the space for bring-your-child-to-work day.” That’s inclusive, right?
Sure it is but you can also say “Children are welcome in the space on bring-your-child-to-work day” This decenters you and centers the subject of your communication and removes them entirely unnecessary embedded communications:
- That only one child per coworker is allowed
- That it has to be their own child
- That there are two genders and each child has one of each for a parent
- That this is a concession for one day and not really welcoming
To find out more simple ways in which being intentional can grow revenue, attend the Coworking Europe event where we will be hosting an event on 1 December at 14:15 CET. This digital event will give anyone the opportunity to attend free of charge, giving you access to the advice and support of leading industry experts.
We have ten industry leaders who will be speaking at our event:
Miro Miroslavov from OfficeRnD
Cecilia Tham of Makers of Barcelona
Hector Kolonas from Syncaroo
Bertie van Wyk from MillerKnoll
Alex Ahom from the European Coworking Assembly
Shazia Mustafa from Third Door
Mike LaRosa from Upflex
Pauline Roussel from Coworkies
Natalie du Toit a Paralympic Gold Medalist