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Kate Wilkinson, Program Manager of Culture & Engagement at Accruent, recently spoke at a Reset event on the topic of intentional inclusion in the workplace. The talk was not only insightful but offered some actionable tips employees at all levels can implement. We were in attendance and wanted to share some of the insights gained.

Here’s what we learned:

Insiders exist within every organization

Insiders are those within a group who already have a feeling of belonging. They’re individuals who feel included in their space and know the unspoken rules and social norms that exist. Insiders tend to have:

  • Unwritten rules amongst the group
  • Implicit trust with other insiders
  • Collective understanding of “how things are”
  • Standardized social norms
  • Shared experiences

According to Kate, data shows performance increases by 30% when employees are treated like insiders. Employees who feel their voice is heard at work also report feeling empowered to do their work 5x more than those who don’t feel heard and are 4x more likely to say that they’re proud of where they work.

But how do you pull new employees or those who aren’t currently seen as “insiders” into that space? The answer is intentional inclusion and ongoing action.

We can all take the following steps to be more inclusive

Just saying you’re prioritizing inclusion within a company doesn’t make it so. It takes action at every level of an organization to make sure employees feel like insiders in their own way. Here are some ways to be more intentional in treating everyone like an insider:

  • Write down unspoken rules so they’re available to all employees
  • Aim to understand where people are coming from instead of just interpreting what they’re saying
  • Give opinions and thoughts without judgment
  • Find clarity of commonality – what do members of your team all have in common that can act as a bonding point?
  • Welcome others warmly and quickly
  • Give all team members the freedom to make mistakes
  • Hold everyone accountable in the same ways
  • Keep your team from feeling forgotten by making sure all members are invited to both work-sponsored and non-work-sponsored events
  • Address issues of inclusivity swiftly and promptly
  • Make sure all team members have access to the same people and resources

Inclusivity is rooted in trust, honesty, and mutual respect.

Kate Wilkinson – Program Manager, Culture & Engagement – Accruent

Individual contributors can be inclusive in their own way

It can be difficult for individual contributors to feel like they can move the needle for inclusion in the workplace, but small changes and intentional ways of being can make a huge difference.

  • Call out exclusive policies and behaviors – if you see something that actively excludes another team member taking place, call it to attention and offer an alternate option
  • Invite all to participate – mix up events at different times so people with after-work responsibilities can participate
  • Be an example to others – oftentimes a small call out of unfair treatment can trickle down and cause others to be more mindful

Managers have a responsibility to be inclusive for their teams

While individual contributors can make an impact in their own right, managers are often looked at to set an example and strive for larger intentional change. Here are some ways those in leadership positions can stive for inclusivity:

  • Keep up-to-date on issues that are important to the people you work with – whether it’s legislation affecting LGBTQIA individuals, or the cultural holidays that some of your team members observe, showing interest in the things they care about can go a long way
  • Limit work decisions to working hours – if work is discussed at happy hours or on the golf course where not all employees who should be involved in decisions are able to be present, those conversations need to be put on hold and scheduled to revisit during working hours
  • Encourage individuality and personality among all your employees – find their strengths and interests, and find ways to celebrate those within the workplace
  • Regularly ask for a gauge of accountability and ask other managers to weigh in – ask how you’re doing, how the company is doing, and how you can improve

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