Inclusive behaviors.

Employees play an essential role in advancing inclusion. Let’s dive into three ways they can make their behaviors more inclusive and contribute to an inclusive culture:

  1. Mindset & role.
  2. Make communication inclusive.
  3. Make meetings inclusive.

Action 1: Mindset & role.

  • An inclusive mindset.

An inclusive mindset means you want fairness for your colleagues. But you also want them to be seen, heard, valued, and celebrated for who they truly are.

Burdening minority groups or underrepresented employees with carrying the DEI change is a pitfall. Inclusion is everyone’s business: minority and majority.

The necessary change should always be a shared responsibility!

  • Daily inclusive behaviors.

Once you have mastered the inclusive mindset, consciously change your behaviors to make them more inclusive.

Find inspiration in the list below or define which behaviors you would personally like to show more to increase inclusion at work.

  1. Ask for feedback, especially from people who are different from you.
  2. Share a compelling and personal story about why being inclusive is important to you and the business.
  3. Deliberately seek out differences by inviting different people to the table and interacting with a broader network.
  4. Check your impact to see if people are copying your role modeling. For example, does a more diverse group of people share ideas with you?
  5. Check your biases, stereotypes, and prejudices regularly.
  6. Use your privilege to speak up for others who can’t.

Define more desired inclusive behaviors with your team.

Discuss which ones are most relevant and beneficial to your work and collaboration with others. Link the behaviors to common biases, stereotypes, reoccurring frustrations, miscommunications, or even conflicts about differences between colleagues.

Use the Quick Start Guide to start the conversation. You can find it here.

  • Your role in advancing DEI.

Besides changing your behaviors to be more inclusive, you can take on an active role in advancing DEI in your organization.

Each role needs representation to create a good buzz around DEI and, more importantly, make cultural change.

It is possible for employees and leaders to take on multiple roles at once or to switch between roles depending on the DEI topic or situation at hand.

  • Commit & hold each other accountable.

If you require employees to act inclusively, do not expect their behaviors to change overnight. The changes take ongoing conscious effort and will often slip people’s minds in the daily rush at work.

It is not easy to constantly check your behaviors. Regular reminders and feedback from colleagues and leaders are needed.

Action 2: Make communication inclusive.

Non-inclusive language is our default mode. It is what we unconsciously use most. It forms barriers to sound understanding, respect, and accessibility of communication.

Inclusive communication enables good collaboration in diverse workplaces. It stimulates engagement, productivity, innovation, and wellbeing, makes employees feel valued and at home, and boosts your organization’s reputation.

  • What is inclusive communication?

Inclusive communication is effective communication. It is respectful, accurate, accessible, and relevant to all. It is a people-centered approach that encompasses language, processes, and words, free from stereotypes and bias (Queensland Government, 2022).

  • Inclusive language.

Inclusive language is a language that:

  • Is free of words, phrases, or tones that reflect prejudiced, stereotyped, or discriminatory views of particular people or groups.
  • Does not deliberately or inadvertently exclude people from being seen as part of a group (Rozaki et al., 2020).

Reading tip: Ferguson, J. & Bellamy, R. (2022) The Inclusive Language Handbook: A Guide to Better Communication & Transformational Leadership.  

  • Inclusive interactions.

Forming words and sentences is only one part of communication. The other part, one that we tend to forget, is listening.

You must listen actively and ask open questions to make your interactions more inclusive.

Reading tip: Discover more information about inclusive interactions in the Queensland Government Inclusive Communication Guide.

  • Inclusive design.

As an organization, you can motivate employees to use inclusive language, pay attention to inclusion in their interactions, and be a role model in this field.

An additional level of inclusion in communication is accessibility and inclusion through visuals and design.

It is relevant for all employees, specifically those with cognitive disabilities or physical disabilities like visual or hearing impairments.

Tool: Find many more tips in Inclusion Now’s guide, Inclusive Visual Language: Understanding how visuals can embrace or exclude potential audiences. Access it here.

Action 3: Make meetings inclusive.

  • Why are inclusive meetings important?

Meetings are the center of collaboration.

Making them inclusive allows a diversity of thought and enables all team members to bring their ideas to the table. As a result, meetings become a place for sharing, discussing, and inclusive decision-making decisions.

Inclusive meetings make team members feel welcomed, comfortable and encouraged to participate. These factors will enhance the collaboration’s outcome.

  • How can meetings be exclusive for newcomers?

Each organization has its own meeting culture with customs and practices. As a result, the rules can be unwritten, which poses a challenge for newcomers: 

The latter means accidentally breaking a rule and sensing this by reading the reaction of colleagues and leaders.

  • How can bias impact meetings?

Meetings are often result-driven. You have limited time to reach a specific goal or outcome. Teams focused on the result without paying attention to the meeting process can unconsciously exhibit exclusive behaviors.

  • 6 Tips to make meetings inclusive.

When continuous interruptions occur, identify, challenge, and break them up.

Become a DEI expert.