Over the last few months I have discussed the difference between inclusion and diversity, why it’s important to have an inclusive culture and more generally, how to create an inclusive culture. Today, I want to give managers struggling with inclusivity ten clear actions they can take – and things they can avoid – in order to perpetuate it.
It requires conscious effort for most managers to implement inclusivity. Here are some simple everyday actions all managers can use:
1. Spend time with each individual person.
It’s very easy to spend time with people who are like us because we share the same interests and often activities, but when someone is different, it requires more effort. So the inverse of that is not to skip anyone when going round the desks.
Picture this as an example: one male boss goes round all the desks punching the arm of his male reports, but just walks right past a female report because he doesn’t want to be seen punching a female. But he could stop to say good morning as he passes her desk.
2. Know something about each person.
Being a good manager means not ignoring the emotions and personal side of employees. We are all human and understanding something about our lives helps us connect with one another. It also makes resolving complaints and concerns easier.
3. Find something to praise, value and ask questions about each persons work.
Feedback is the number one way employees grow and feel included. But you cannot only give negative feedback when something goes wrong; it’s best to look for opportunities to give positive feedback and ask questions to show engagement. Of course, it’s easy to appear as if you are micromanaging, so be careful not to cross the line. You may not be a manager who gives praise often but if so, don’t underestimate how important it is to people who have different views on praise to you.
4. In meetings, make sure everyone has spoken.
You cannot have inclusivity if people’s diverse perspectives and opinions are not heard and valued. If you make sure you call on everyone in a meeting, rather than soliciting opinions from one or two people – or letting one or two people dominate naturally – then you are demonstrating that everyone is valued and included.
Sometimes people are less likely to speak up for cultural reasons, but you can bridge the gap by calling on them purposefully to demonstrate to them and others that their thoughts are valued. For example, some people are naturally quieter than others and need to have an conversational opening created for them. Women sometimes report that they have trouble being heard in a meeting. As a manager, you can make a difference.