Asking people to dance: Creating better spaces to be more inclusive at work

Leadership Memo 2021-4

We hear the term “diversity and inclusion” quite a bit recently, but do we really know what that means? Do we know how that applies to our work, regardless of whether it is remote? “Psychological safety” is another term that is used a lot these days. Do we know that diversity and inclusion are part of what makes an environment psychologically safe?

“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Verna Myers

Let’s focus on inclusion today. Inclusion is not just about including people from different gender, race, sexual orientation and age. It is far more than just ticking some boxes. It is about:

  1. Making people feel welcomed, accepted, respected, and valued. 
  2. Creating an environment where people can contribute their own perspectives and understanding, without the fear of rejection and humiliation. 
  3. Giving everyone the space to share their “voice” and feel the support from everyone else. 

When people feel supported and valued, morale and motivation would soar. 

Inclusion often means a shift in an organisation’s mindset and culture. This inclusive culture is important when everyone is co-located. It’s even more so when everyone works remotely. In a hybrid or distributed environment? It’s crucial. 

We talked about the differences between a leader and a manager in a previous Leadership Memo. We know that leadership is a role, not a job. Leaders lead people. They encourage, motivate, and inspire trust. They are the ones who create and hold a psychologically safe environment for others. So, as leaders, what can you practically do?

Here’re a few things you can do to help create this inclusive culture:

  1. Understand the dynamics of your group. Dig deeper than the more self-evident ones: race, gender, and age. For example:
    • Are they introverts or extroverts? Are they quiet or do they talk a lot? 
    • How do they take in and process information? Is that visual, verbal or textual? 
    • Do they have any physical limitations that are not easily visible?
  2. Attain the skills and techniques to know how that affects your interaction with your team, how you communicate with them, and how you work with them.
  3. Learn facilitation skills. Remote facilitation skills are essential in a remote or hybrid environment. Good facilitators create a space where everyone can contribute in a way that is natural and comfortable to them. They include and respect everyone. 

If you want to learn specific tips and tricks, come to my upcoming workshop, “Welcome to our Meetings Smorgasbord: Changing the Way You Work”, where I’ll also explore some common considerations that people fail to realise, even after a year of working from home during this pandemic. Hope to see you there.

Latest happenings:

  1. Back by popular demand, “Meetings are like a box of chocolates” workshop is being offered again! Come join me on 29 April at 11am Pacific, 19.00 UK time, as I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that you can apply immediately, on how to have an engaging meeting, regardless of what kind of meetings they are, and how to be inclusive in a meeting. In the end, you’ll be able to create your Meeting Box of Chocolates that people will love. Register here.

2. Have you listened to the podcasts on my website? Don’t miss out on the new episodes!


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