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Inclusive behaviors in the workforce

I had the privilege of attending an event around Women in Technology by The WIT Network at the NYC Microsoft office. It was amazing to see all the young women that were set to make their mark in the world! As a part of my presentation about the mission and vision of Ladyship, I outlined how all the good work that is being done by organizations has helped to increase the pipeline of more women in the workforce. I also discussed some of the common issues and trends that we see in the workforce that inhibit the growth and success of these women. It was great to see the overwhelming support and encouragement.

We then proceeded to an exercise around Inclusive behaviors and what can be done. This blog post is to shed light on the 10 inclusive behaviors that will promote equality in the workforce. Ms. Patti Cataldi did an awesome job of explaining the behaviors that were adapted from Marjane Jensen, Kaleel Jamison Consulting Group, Inc. She went over the reason these behaviors are important and some examples of scenarios where we see these behaviors.

1. Examine your assumptions:

Examining assumptions offers the opportunity to understand people and situations more fully and look beyond initial biases.


  • Ask yourself what assumptions you have made

  • Do you know that they are true?

  • How could you find out?

2. Make a habit of asking questions:

Asking questions gives the opportunity to undermine incorrect assumptions - and shows people you value their input.


  • Ask people when you aren't sure what their thoughts, feelings, or motivations are.

  • Ask people for feedback.

  • Ask people how you can work together more effectively.

3. Ensure all voices are heard:

When some voices aren't heard, ideas are excluded and the entire team suffers.


  • Listen fully

  • Intervene when someone is being discounted or ignored.

  • If you have insights or concerns you didn't get a chance to share in a meeting, send follow up email.

4. Listen carefully to the person speaking until they feel understood:

Inclusion requires two-way communication acknowledging and making an effort to understand different perspectives.


  • Acknowledge all contributions in a discussion.

  • Before you respond, paraphrase what you heard.

  • Recognize all ideas add value.

  • Build on the thoughts and ideas of others.

5. Address misunderstandings and resolve disagreements

When people with different backgrounds and perspectives fully contribute, the potential for conflicts and disagreements increases.


  • Use disagreements as a catalyst for learning.

  • Seek a third party to mediate.

  • Develop team mechanism to address disagreements.

6. If you have a strong reaction to someone, ask yourself why:

Strong reactions can point towards hidden biases that can be examined.


  • If you are angry or offended by someone, what assumptions have you made about their intent?

  • How would your experience be different if you assumed that person had positive intent or shared your goals?

7. Include and seek input from people with a wide variety of backgrounds:

Diverse input helps us innovate, serve customers better, and better anticipate potential issues.


  • Ask yourself whether you have solicited diverse input; if not, whose input can you request.

  • Invite quiet members to speak and contribute.

  • Vary processes for how ideas are shared.

8. Take action to reduce stressful situations:

People are less likely to speak from a biased stance when they are in an environment that feels calm and safe.


  • Keep a calm demeanor

  • Don't speak loudly or interrupt.

  • Pause before you speak

  • Eliminate distractions

  • Relieve time pressures when possible

9. Understand each persons contribution:

At its core an inclusive organization creates an environment in which all people add value.


  • Ensure everyone on the team understands how each person's role is essential for the team.

  • Align individual's contributions, team goals and your organization's mission.

10. Be brave:

To create an inclusive work culture, each person must deal with the discomfort of change and take the risk of challenging norms.


  • Examine micro-behaviors as clues to hidden biases.

  • Consciously adjust your micro-behaviors when appropriate to be more inclusive.

  • Accept mistakes as a necessary part of the learning process.

What other behaviors can you think of?! This applies in everyday life - school, community and work. This was truly eye opening to me!



Include one and all

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