Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Inclusive Meetings: Creating Spaces Where All Can Contribute

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | Inclusive Meetings: Creating Spaces Where All Can Contribute

It’s true – the loudest voice often gets the most “airtime.” You have likely been in a meeting where one person dominates the conversation, leaving teammates struggling to add their ideas and questions. Research reveals that men from minority groups and women are often uncomfortable speaking up in a group setting. Managers play a pivotal role in ensuring their teams feel included in meetings. You can make a significant impact by creating a more effective meeting structure.

Try these four tips to create an inviting meeting environment.

Send meeting materials ahead of time.

Providing an agenda and relevant data before a meeting allows employees to think about the content ahead of time. This accommodates employees for whom English is a second language and those who need time to process information.

Host pre-calls.

Holding informal conversations before a meeting produces multiple benefits. First, you can pressure-test ideas with your audience. And second, you may hear from individuals who are uncomfortable speaking up in a group setting. These one-on-ones are also an opportunity to make sure that people understand their value on the team and at the meeting.

Create ground rules.

Bring “rules of the road” that outline the expected code of conduct to your next meeting. Define what an inclusive meeting looks like. Include items like “3 before me” to remind attendees to give three others a chance to speak before piping up again. Offer alternative communication options, such as allowing virtual comments meetings.

Identify a facilitator.

A meeting facilitator can manage the tempo of the conversation, keep the meeting running smoothly, and steer the discussion back on course. A facilitator can be especially helpful in blocking interrupters and ensuring all points of view are heard. It can be challenging to be a meeting participant and facilitator simultaneously. In these cases, identify a skilled facilitator who can manage the meeting so you can participate.

A part of your job as a manager is to foster an environment that allows your team to work well together. Creating meeting safety goes a long way in establishing an inclusive workplace. And research shows that creating an environment that supports diversity in all shapes and sizes creates a more dynamic, engaged workforce that thrives. Use your next meeting as an opportunity to pilot these best practices.

Originally featured in UBA’s February 2023 HR Elements Newsletter.

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