Eight Steps For Strengthening An Inclusive Workplace
Setting a diverse workforce up for success requires a commitment to the practices of inclusion. While this concept can feel overwhelming in many ways, there are very tangible and tactical actions that individuals and organizations can take to drive a culture of belonging… a culture where diverse contributors have equal opportunity and impact. Meetings are a space where some simple steps can be taken to drive this impact effectively, by actively and intentionally giving individuals opportunities to contribute, share, and be involved in the conversation.
A truly inclusive environment that fosters a sense of psychological safety and belonging has been shown to improve business performance and organizational effectiveness across the board. Organizations with inclusive cultures are twice as likely to exceed financial goals and 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes (Bourke, 2016). It has also been shown in a Glassdoor Diversity Hiring Survey that 67% of job seekers indicated that being part of a diverse and inclusive company was important to them when evaluating job offers.
- Review your list of attendees. Are you missing people who represent diverse or dissenting points of view?
- Set the stage for inclusion. Send a pre-meeting email to attendees to invite them to come ready to share. Include an agenda and any prompts that will allow them to prepare for the dialogue.
- Set clear ground rules at the start of the meeting and stick to them. When inclusive meeting conduct is codified, it puts offenders on notice and makes everyone aware of their rights and responsibilities.
- Model the behavior you expect to see from others.
- When a big question arises, have the group take a few minutes to put their ideas on paper, then go around and have everyone share. This gives fewer vocal participants time to gather their thoughts and ensures that their voices will be heard.
- Watch closely for dominators and interrupters. If someone tries to control the dialogue, interject and redirect the conversation back to the broader group.
- In virtual meetings, there is often an option to allow for text-based contributions to the conversation.
- Follow up after the meeting. Thank participants and ask for their feedback (overall effectiveness and inclusivity).
The journey to creating an inclusive workplace is worthwhile. As business leaders, if we’re able to successfully create spaces where our employees feel valued and appreciated we will reap the benefits tenfold.