If you have the desire to promote inclusion in the workplace these days, it’s becoming a lot harder. Hybrid work has changed the way businesses operate and radically changed the way teams operate. For many organizations, hybrid work is here to stay and a lot of industries are embracing operations in a hybrid environment. There is a responsibility today for leaders and teams to figure out how they are going to promote inclusion in the hybrid workplace.
In today’s episode we interview Perrine Farque, Author of Inclusion: The Ultimate Secret for an Organization’s Success. Perrine agrees with and shares the work of recent studies from HBR and McKinsey, which prove that diverse and inclusive teams push the limits to perform better.
What is the Meaning of Inclusion?
When there is inclusion in the workplace, employees feel heard, seen, and valued for who they are. Employees feel included when leaders greet them by their names, listen to their feedback and ideas and make them feel valued. A leader who creates inclusion recognizes the presence of every person on their team, remembers details about each person’s life, and asks questions that allow for meaningful connection.
Belonging is the ultimate level of where people feel like they belong to their team. They see their team as a tribe, as human beings wired by a sense of belonging. This desire is present for all of us–at home, at work and in our communities. Thus, keeping this sense of belonging alive in hybrid environments is essential.
How to Promote Inclusion in the Workplace
As a Team Member
Understand and Notice the Difference between Appreciation vs. Depreciation at Work
A lot of managers depreciate their team members and they don’t even know it. Depreciation is the opposite of appreciation. When team members are depreciated, they do not feel heard, valued, or respected. Team members feel depreciated when they are not asked for their opinion in meetings or are asked at the last minute when time is running out.
Leaders might not even notice this is happening. In extreme cases of depreciation, this could be seen as bullying or a form of toxic leadership. Depreciation leads to disengagement, lack of trust, and lack of creative thinking.
If You Don’t Feel Appreciated At Work
- Establish trust with that person. If it’s a toxic leader, you might be able to build trust by channelling their inner motivation to compete. Many leaders are very competitive, so you can build rapport and then leverage their competitive desire. To do that, you can give them tips on how to improve their career or achieve goals through the trusting support and partnership you are offering.
- Encourage other employees to give the leader feedback to create awareness and help them understand the undesired consequences of their behaviors.
- Develop explicit standards for inclusive leadership. For example, “We don’t tolerate toxic leadership, bullying or harassment; we don’t tolerate public shaming.”
If You Don’t Feel Like You Belong to Your Team or Company
If, as a team member, you don’t feel like you belong, what should you do? To promote inclusion in the workplace so that you feel like you belong, Perrine recommends that you begin by taking ownership of your feelings, and muster the courage to reach out.
As a team member who doesn’t feel a sense of belonging, sharing how you are feeling is a way for you to take responsibility for the relationship. You can’t expect your team members or leaders to read your mind. By reaching out and instigating a two-way dialogue, you can share your challenges and also learn what challenges others are dealing with. This creates a bond of inclusion.
When you reach out, ask authentic questions about how others are doing. After you ask, listen and see if that person is responsive or not. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. Ask questions like, “Is there anything I can do to help you?” or “What are you working on at the moment I can help you with?”
As a team member, reaching out helps you lead by example. This can be scary, especially when you’re reaching out to your boss. Obviously, it’s uncomfortable to take the first step. But if you don’t do anything to reach out, that lack of inclusion and belonging is not going to improve. You should take ownership and be the one who builds connection and interests.
Inclusion Moments for Meetings
Meetings are the main venues for inclusion to be present and alive. We spend a lot of time in meetings; for some, up to 70% of our time. The way we navigate meetings can create a space for an inclusive environment. Facilitating inclusive hybrid meetings requires thoughtful meeting facilitation.
To create inclusion moments for meetings:
- Do not “jump straight into business.”
- Devote at least 5-10 minutes to build connections and relationships inside your meetings. Take the time to see how everyone is doing. Make them feel heard, valued and respected right away so that trust and openness are fostered. This might seem unproductive, but it helps build authentic relationships that, in turn, will allow for more productive conversations inside the meetings.
- Thoughtfully consider the partners and groups for breakout rooms.
- Do not create breakout rooms that have only all in-office team members and only all remote team members. This is a recipe for disaster.
- Appoint a co-facilitator
- Appoint one team member to ensure everyone’s voice is heard in the meetings. Empower them to monitor speaking time. Have them listen and notice if there are interruptions. Are remote team members getting interrupted by in-office team members?
- Give everyone a chance to speak.
- When asking questions, do round robins and go around the “virtual table.”
- Avoid the “meeting after the meeting” with fellow in-office staff.
- Ensure post-meeting communication includes remote AND in office staff. Ensure there is no office banter that creates an “inside group” for only in-office staff.
Review & Update Policies for Inclusion Changes
Since the pandemic, your policies might be outdated. For example, it might not make sense to measure success based on someone’s time in the office or mandate that certain tasks need to be completed in the office. Make sure your policies are updated to reflect what is actually needed to get the work done given new hybrid configurations.
About Perrine Farque
Perrine Farque is an award-winning diversity and inclusion author and internationally recognised keynote speaker who was nominated in the Top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech. Perrine drove the strategy at leading technology companies including Facebook for over a decade.
During her career, Perrine spoke at many industry events including Microsoft, IBM and Facebook. Perrine has an extensive track-record of transforming workplaces into highly inclusive, engaged and collaborative places. She is passionate about building diverse, inclusive and equitable workplaces to drive employee engagement, retention, productivity, profitability, innovation and growth.
To learn more, check out Perrine’s book, Inclusion: The Ultimate Secret for an Organizations Success, where she dives deeper into how to promote inclusion in the workplace.
To learn more about how your hybrid team can promote inclusion in the workplace, download this episode now.
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