Practicing inclusivity

Tips, rituals, and prompts for leading a more inclusive team

Shuffle

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Schedule virtual 1:1s to get to know team members from different offices.

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Make it a practice to share a meal or coffee (virtual or in-person) with someone outside of your team or function once a month.

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Limit the amount of after hours or weekend emails you send. When you do send them, make sure the recipient knows you don’t expect a response outside of work hours.

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Establish “golden time”: protected time on calendars for individuals’ personal commitments. Work as a team to ensure everyone’s golden time is communicated and respected.

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Remove pressure to always be on camera during video calls.

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Speak face-to-face when working through disagreements, or when offering constructive feedback.

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When attending a meeting on behalf of your team, represent the views of your team members even if you don’t agree with them.

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In meetings and one-on-one, ask quieter people to share what’s on their minds and create space for them to be heard.

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In person, have a “no screens” rule so you can give each other undivided attention.

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Establish shared meeting etiquette ground rules with your team and stick to them.

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Encourage team members of all levels to share their POV during the actual meeting.

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For global teams, rotate the start time of standing meetings so each time zone is accommodated.

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Vary who sits at the head of the table, or near the phone (the power position).

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Rotate responsibility for taking meeting notes, and record them in a format that can be easily shared and accessed.

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For group discussions on topics that may get contentious or convoluted, bring in an outside facilitator to ensure a healthy, productive discussion.

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Consider commutes when bringing teams together to do important work—make sure you’re considerate to those who need to be in transit for long periods of time.

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Share gratitude with at least one person every day.

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Once a month, write a thank-you note to someone whose work you want to recognize.

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At weekly team meetings, ask each person to express gratitude for something another team member did in the past week.

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Practice active listening: Adjust your body language to show that you’re attentive, make direct eye contact, and put down your phone.

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After each meeting, determine if anyone was missing who would value hearing about what was discussed. Then, follow up with them.

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Share a meal with someone whose perspective differs from your own.

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Spend time with your colleagues outside of the work, in order to build connection and trust.

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Schedule (and uphold) regular 1:1s with your team.

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Ask each person on your team to identify where they are on a series of spectrums related to how they work best, such as early bird vs. night owl, or email vs. in person. Use the insights surfaced to determine how the team will work together. (You can download SYPartners’ tool, “How We Roll”, here.)

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At a team offsite, ask people to share stories about a time when they felt they belonged, and a time when they didn’t. Reflect on these stories so each team member can realize their biases and blind-spots in interacting with others.

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When someone new joins your team or project, meet with them to understand where they feel confident jumping in and where they need extra coaching.

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Get to know the unique skills and experiences that each person brings to the table—hint: it’s more than their job title. One way to do this is to have each person do one of the many strength finding assessments (e.g. Superpowers by SYPartners, Strengthsfinder) and then discuss results as a team.

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When you enlist people to act, explain the “why” behind what you’re asking for.

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Start each team meeting with a recap of recent decisions made by the leadership team to make sure everyone knows how outcomes were reached.

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Establish and communicate who the ultimate owner or decision maker is on each part of a project, and what success looks like.

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Improve accessibility by adding alt text and image descriptions to materials and websites.

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When designing materials, look for ways to show diversity in imagery.

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Create opportunities for two-way mentorship between younger and older employees.

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Improve accessibility for those with physical disabilities by maintaining clear, wide walkways in your office.

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As a team, educate yourselves about microaggression in the workplace and reflect on the impact of your actions.

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Include transcripts or captions for videos.

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Encourage the inclusion of pronouns in email signatures.

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Send out the meeting agenda and materials in advance to allow everyone to process and prepare for discussion at their own pace. Give team members a heads-up if you plan to ask for input in a meeting.

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When someone exits the team, don't recycle the same job description for the next hire. Consider the skills already present on your team, and hire to fill gaps and maximize diversity.

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Kick off every new project with a discussion about team norms and values.

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Hold a mock press conference before making a big decision. Get a few people to represent each option and have the rest of the team be the press gallery—asking questions, testing assumptions, and challenging ideas. The aim is not to stump them, or cut them down, but to consider different perspectives and generate positive discussion.

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Have a weekly team breakfast where members take turns sharing a source of personal inspiration (such as a story, a poem, or a video).

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Have a regular ritual of pausing to ask, “who are we not hearing from?” and, “what are we missing?” Then, take action to mitigate those gaps.

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Make sure everyone on the team knows the name and pronoun of each member.

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For meetings involving food, plan accordingly for individuals’ dietary restrictions.

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Kick off meetings with a quick temperature check of how people are doing.

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Acknowledge real world events and provide space for team members to process them.

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Encourage—and model—taking the time to get to know everyone on the team on an individual level. Don't be afraid to ask questions that probe more deeply into the humanity of the individual. What are their interests? What is going on in their lives?

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Always start discussions with the input of people who have called in by phone.

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Encourage team members to submit comments and questions before, during, and after meetings through a digital tool (such as Slido), and follow up with the group if they are not all addressed during the meeting.

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Take note of individuals’ out-of-work obligations and schedule meetings accordingly.

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In hybrid team meetings, create a more equitable experience for all by turning on individual cameras even when part of the team is gathered together in a room.

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Utilize live voting—polls, dots on spectrums—to invite nonverbal engagement.

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At your daily stand-up or regular team meeting, start with a quick finger-shoot: On the count of three, ask everyone to hold up the number of fingers that represents how they are feeling—about work, life, anything—from 0–5, with 5 being “amazing”. Hold space for anyone who would like to share more with the team, and privately follow-up with those who held up a low number.

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Check yourself: Do you project an unhealthy “work above all else” mentality? Find a way to curtail that behavior—consider small changes like turning off Slack notifications after work hours, or scheduling nighttime emails to send the next morning.

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Don’t let one person dominate airtime—especially if that person is you.

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When things get tense, model taking a curious stance rather than jumping to voice your disagreement.

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Take note of individuals’ out-of-work obligations and schedule meetings accordingly.

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In meetings with external partners or clients, take time to individually introduce your team members, as well as their roles and strengths. In doing so, you signal your belief in your team and establish their credibility.

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Share personal stories about how cultivating a diverse range of perspectives has helped you grow as a leader.

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Carve out time to send a rapid feedback email to each team member (or better yet, schedule a conversation) at the close of a project, letting them know their work is valued and how they can improve and grow going forward.

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Proactively ask those around you how you can support them, especially in times of great uncertainty and transition.

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Think back to something non-work related a team member shared in the past week, then follow up with a relevant message. (E.g., “How’s your new puppy?”)

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Get in the habit of firing off messages of gratitude and recognition whenever they cross your mind. Nothing is too small to be acknowledged.

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