Enterprises require diverse corporate culture now but how many can freely voice their opinions in meetings? An HBR study reveals that women and men from minority groups refrain from speaking up in brainstorming sessions. In this HBR article, Kathryn Heath and Brenda F. Wensil explain how inclusive meetings give rise to diverse corporate culture.
Bringing Inclusivity into Corporate Culture
Leaders must set agendas, manage time, resolve conflicts, and choose the right opportunities in a meeting. However, they leave out the most important aspect—inclusion. Following are the ways you can improve inclusivity in meetings:
Follow Common Meeting Decorum: Priya Parker in “The Art of Gathering” insists that setting is important for inclusivity in meetings. Send out an email inviting people to share and listen to opinions. When people start filtering in the conference room, greet them by their name. Ensure everyone has a seat. Clarify what you expect from the meeting and how people can agree and disagree with respect. To warm up newcomers and nervous participants, start with an activity that includes everyone. For a larger crowd, set them up in groups to perform warmup exercises together.
Drive the Conversation But Don’t Dominate It: Just like a conductor guides musicians in the right direction, leaders must empower meeting participants. Sometimes, only the boss dominates the entire meeting. Additionally, the supporters drown out the voices of others. Explain what behaviors you encourage and discourage in meetings. This will help improve conversation quality and establish a diverse corporate culture. If someone tries to defy the rules or goes offtrack by being dominant, intervene and remind the individual of the meeting decorum. If a person is stopped mid-sentence, ask the interrupter to let the speaker finish the talk.
Be Committed to Diversity: Several organizations are gearing up to encourage a diverse corporate culture. Leaders should emphasize more on inclusive meetings too. Gather up your team and explain what inclusivity means and describe how to infuse inclusivity in meetings. Become a role model and empower the team to make meetings more diverse. Ask feedback or team’s reaction on your efforts.
Have a Meeting Checklist: Include people from all community and backgrounds. Send out invites and agenda early. Greet all participants by name as they enter. Set expectations of inclusivity. Direct the talk and intervene or encourage when needed. Listen intently from start to finish. Thank all for participating and ask for feedback in the end.
To view the original article in full, visit the following link: https://hbr.org/2019/09/to-build-an-inclusive-culture-start-with-inclusive-meetings