Building Inclusive Companies

One recurring request I’ve heard at HubSpot recently is managers and individual contributors alike looking for resources on making teams more inclusive. As a response to this request I’m putting together a series of 10-minute practices that will set you on the path toward building more inclusive teams. For anyone outside of HubSpot, we’ll be publishing all of these practices on ThinkGrowth.org.

But first, let’s start with why

The Business Case: Inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. But if that’s not enough reason for you to consider 10×10, consider that your team members are more likely to stay at HubSpot, work harder, trust their team members, and perform better if they feel included at work.

The Human Case: No one likes to feel left out, so if even one person on your team feels like he or she isn’t included or engaged on the team, chances are he or she is less likely to recommend your team to a friend, less likely to recruit someone, and less likely to feel happy and productive at work.

The Customer Case: Learning how to build connections and think meaningfully about inclusivity makes us all better leaders, so it increases the likelihood we can connect with prospects and customers globally at scale.

Who’s with me? Okay then, let’s do this.

Practice One: How to Run More Inclusive Meetings

Quick, pull up your next scheduled team meeting calendar invite and scan for the following:

  • What time is the meeting being held?
  • Who is slated to present?
  • What topics are prioritized?
  • Who often speaks the most outside of presenters?
  • Is there a video conference link included or would someone dialing in have to request one?
  • Is there a note about whether or not the meeting is recorded for folks on vacation or who cannot attend?
  • How might someone suggest a topic for consideration or inclusion at this meeting? Is that clear from the invite?

Some scenarios to consider to be more inclusive:

  • If one location is always presenting, consider asking a remote employee to drive the presentation.
  • If you ask if there are questions, consider pausing for 15 seconds to allow folks who are more introverted to consider speaking up.
  • If one person or group always dominates or derails the conversation, consider giving the reins to a quieter person on the team to facilitate and give them free rein to alter the structure of the meeting.
  • If folks are typically distracted on laptops during the meeting, consider making a no laptops or phones rule to maximize active listening.
  • If the same person always takes notes, ask someone who never does to consider doing so.
  • If you always host the meeting at a time that is good for for one location, consider mixing it up to work for remote team members.
  • If you always meet first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, consider the impact of running late on parents on your team who have to manage pick-up, drop-off or childcare implications most during those windows.
  • If you don’t send out pre-meeting notes and materials, consider the impact on folks who aren’t native English speakers and the impact sending the materials the night before could drive in global participation.

If you’re the person hosting the meeting, consider trying just one thing on the list above (or otherwise) to make the meeting more inclusive for people on your team. If you’re a meeting attendee, consider sending a suggestion for a way to make the meeting more inclusive the next time you get together.

If you see something that you know can help, head directly to “What did you learn?” below.

If you’re not so sure based on the invite, consider asking a colleague to share a suggestion on how you could make the meeting more inclusive.

If you’re still not sure, host the meeting and send a quick note to attendees after asking how the meeting could be more inclusive of everyone, then skip to “What did you learn?” below.

What did you learn?

Did you notice anyone on your team engaging in the meeting differently?

Regardless of whether the behavior changed anything, consider sending a quick note out to your team that says:

“Today, you may or may not have noticed, but I tried out something to make our team meetings a bit more inclusive for everyone. If you have feedback on how it went or something else we should try to make our meetings more inclusive please submit it here (open text field). All responses are anonymous, or you can feel free to email me directly.”

Whether your experiment was a hit or nothing really happened, being mindful of who speaks, when, how, how folks on global teams are included, and asking for feedback around it helps set the tone for your team that you care.

More resources on running inclusive meetings:

Related content:

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How to Run More Inclusive Meetings was originally published in ThinkGrowth.org on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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