August 11, 2016 — Leaders are the ones who set the tone from the top down, and they’re the ones who must focus on and choose to be inclusive. After all, diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. This month I decided to compile a list of my favorite actions—easy, practical, and intentional actions—that a leader, team, or organization could take to focus on inclusion.
I was aiming for 10 examples, but I received so many good tips that I ended up with 20! So this post has the first 10 and part two, which will be available in the coming weeks, will showcase the rest. Check out the first 10 below.
When hiring or reviewing talent
- During talent review discussions, have someone draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. Record the words that are used to describe women on one side and those for men on the other. Share this list with the team.
- Ban the word “fit” from hiring discussions. Recognize that what’s intended to refer to an alignment of values can be translated into comfort with someone who looks, thinks, and acts like the majority.
- When seeking out talent: Look up. Look down. Look deep. Look often.
During meetings or brainstorms
- Implement a “no-interruption” rule to ensure that everyone is being heard —especially women.
- Over the course of several meetings, keep track of whose ideas get acknowledged, built on, or adopted, vs. ignored or appropriated (i.e., without acknowledgement). Be cognizant of any patterns based on gender, race, and/or ethnicity.
- Any time a discussion about possible presenters happens, review the list of names and see if it is at least 50% diverse. Seize these opportunities to showcase somebody who isn’t heard from much, if at all.
- Acknowledge people you don’t know in the hallways with a culturally appropriate greeting (for example, in the United States address someone with a smile and a “hello” or “hi”). A small friendly signal goes a long way toward breaking down hierarchies, siloes, and aggressive cultures while opening the door to further dialogue.
- Engage with people of different levels and backgrounds at the water cooler — either virtually or in person.
Be an open supporter
- Put a Pride flag, “I am an ally” sign, or some other signal of your allyship on your office door or at your desk. A little bit of visibility can go a long way.
- Have you personally been left out of any of opportunities? Try to understand why. Did bias or unwritten rules play a part? Think about what you can do to make yourself more visible and approachable, in an effort to be part of the conversation and top of mind for future selection.
If you have other ideas, please post them to the comments! I’d love to read what works for you and your organization.