Currently, there are meetings of executives of a company, where ideas are shared, decisions are made and power dynamics are developed. Taking the time to ensure that attendees feel comfortable and confident participating in them will create a more inclusive environment and will likely encourage better ideas to come up as well. For example, in a recent Forbes Insights survey of senior executives, 48% fully agreed and 37% in some way endorsed that a diverse and inclusive workforce offered different perspectives, which a company needs to drive its strategy of innovation.
There are five steps you can take to make your meetings more inclusive.
1. Make it comfortable to take risks. It is important to make everyone feel “welcome” from the beginning, so you can start the meeting by saying, “Let’s accept being open to new ideas and respectfully expressing any disagreements”.
2. Plan to include everyone, so they have a voice in what is discussed, which will help make the meeting more friendly; It is helpful to ask for feedback up front. Find out what others want to discuss and insert what you can, into the meeting agenda.
3. Assign and rotate roles at each meeting. It is useful to assign roles as facilitator, for one participant to measure the time and another to take notes, which will help your meetings run smoothly. A great way to enhance the inclusion of this approach is to rotate these roles to proactively prevent common mistakes, such as a senior leader always acting as facilitator or the youngest woman on the team taking notes. As roles are rotated, everyone has the opportunity to practice facilitation skills and contribute to their success.
4. Make sure all voices are heard. During your meeting, you can invite team members to share disagreeing opinions, asking to hear perspectives that have not yet been considered. You could directly ask anyone who, up to that point, has not listened to express their opinion.
5. Be transparent about how decisions are made. One way to encourage openness is to be transparent with your team. When people understand how their feedback is used, they feel more involved in the decision-making process. Transparency helps team members connect more deeply with their work and encourages future contribution in meetings.
By taking these steps to ensure that everyone feels included, valued, and comfortable participating in meetings, you will foster an environment that respects diverse perspectives and ideas and promotes a sense of belonging. While these practices are not exhaustive, they are a useful start in making your meetings more satisfying and impactful and benefit your business or practice.