Ways to contribute to an inclusive work culture
In an inclusive workplace, everyone has an opportunity to contribute and divergent perspectives and approaches can be discussed openly. The more each of us feel we can contribute to the team, the more positive, rewarding, and enriching the experience will be for all.39
Laying the foundation
Agree to disagree: Come to an agreement on norms for how you will work together, as well as simple, respectful ways to call out one another’s unproductive or disrespectful behaviours. It may be uncomfortable at first, but the benefits of resolving issues on the spot will soon support it to become part of your regular collaborations.
Stay open minded: For example, ask yourself, “Why can’t a recent hire initiate something new?”
Rotate team tasks: While being respectful of people’s comfort levels and preferences, mix up responsibility for team tasks such as arranging meetings and organizing social events—it will help get everyone engaged and signal that everyone’s contribution matters, and anyone can take on any task.
Bounce an idea off someone unexpected: Each of us has a unique perspective based on our lived experience—you may uncover a new angle or consideration you have never thought of.
Throw out any assumptions: The next time you find yourself thinking “She wouldn’t be interested”, “He doesn’t have time”, or “They don’t know anything about this topic”, stop and ask.
Talk about more than work: Each team member brings to work a complex lived experience built on not only their ability, gender, race, or culture but also their generation, socio-economic class, beliefs and more. Engaging one another on non-work topics (while being sensitive to others’ comfort levels) opens the door for everyone to bring all aspects of themselves to work, and strengthens connections in the team.
Helping inclusion go viral
Check in on impact: Every couple of months check in with one another on how your new “norms” are working (e.g. in terms of ability to resolve conflicts, innovation and creativity, full participation, sense of belonging, etc.) and brainstorm ways to embed them further.
Pass it on: Commit to championing your inclusive ways of working when collaborating with other teams, on committees, and with vendors and community members.
Conducting Inclusive Meetings
Meetings is an area in which bias and microaggressions can often occur. To counter this, work with other team members to agree on norms and strategies to address exclusive behaviour in the moment. Post them in meeting rooms as a reminder.40
- Apply a “no interruptions” rule and enforce it.
- Rotate regular tasks rather than asking for volunteers to ensure equitable participation.
- To enhance accessibility, consider: are there alternatives to everyone sitting around a table? Can text-heavy reports be produced in video or audio format for the sight-impaired?
- If you are leading a meeting, pay attention to who is getting most airtime and intervene to balance out participation as needed.
- If any individuals dominate the conversation, speak with them privately after the meeting, highlighting the value for team collaboration and the team’s work of hearing all perspectives.
- If someone tries to claim someone else’s idea, call it out (e.g. “Yes, I liked Mohammed’s point, and I’m glad you did too.”)
- Ask people to weigh in, respectfully. For some individuals, speaking up may not be the norm; they may hold back and defer to others. Ask: “Jean, you have experience with this—what are we missing? Is this the best course of action?”
- Schedule meetings and events inclusively: select a venue where everyone can be comfortable (physically and value-wise), and time the event to be within everyone’s working hours.