11 April 2024 | Professor Binna Kandola

Top 5 acts of inclusion that anyone can do

Being inclusive is all about doing small things that make those around us feel seen, heard and valued. We share some simple tips on how to give people a sense of belonging and foster inclusion in your workplace.
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Creating an inclusive culture doesn’t have to be about grand public gestures and high-profile initiatives. Small acts of inclusion – known as micro-affirmations – can play a huge part in creating an environment where everyone feels seen, heard and valued and make a big difference to everyone around us. These are things that we can easily incorporate into our daily interactions – and if we do them often enough, they become second nature to us.

Everyday acts of inclusion in the workplace

Here are just 5 small things that we can all do to make those around us feel more included.

1. Use positive body language

Think about your demeanour and how you come across. When someone is speaking, do you look like you’re interested in what they’re saying? Are you making eye contact, nodding or smiling, or are you folding your arms, looking away, fidgeting or maybe even surreptitiously checking your phone or watch? Body language is equally important when we’re in virtual meetings, so check your camera periodically to make sure that you’re not frowning or looking like you’d rather be somewhere else.

2. Greet people by name

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How we greet people says a lot about how important they are to us, so consider how you’re addressing people when you cross paths. Do you tend to greet some colleagues by name when you see them, but not others? Do you perhaps have special nicknames for those you work closest with? This can be a very clear indicator of who we consider to be in our in-group and who’s in the out-group, so making an effort to greet everyone by their name is a good way of demonstrating that you value and appreciate everyone equally.

3. Remember personal details

We tend to remember information about people that we like and care about, so forgetting a colleague’s name, their interests, or family circumstances sends a message that we simply don’t think they’re important enough to bother. Remembering key personal details about people is a big part of building good working relationships, so take the time to find out about all your colleagues and show an interest in who they are outside of work as well as inside.

4. Pay attention

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Simply paying attention when others are speaking sends positive vibes their way and shows that we’re interested in what they have to say, so resist the temptation to drift off or multi-task in the background. As well as nodding and smiling to show you’re actively listening, try picking up on what they’re saying by asking questions and building on their ideas. Our phones are a major distraction, and while they make it easier than ever before to stay connected, it sends a powerful negative signal if we prefer to engage with our devices rather than with the people around us. Giving ourselves a digital detox at work and making the effort to engage in some physical face time does wonders for our working relationships and team cohesion, not to mention cutting down on unproductive screen-time.

5. Invite people to contribute

You’ll always have people who are keen to speak up and those who are less forthcoming, so in discussions and meetings, don’t just sit and wait for the usual suspects to jump in and have their say. Actively encouraging the involvement of people who tend to sit on the sidelines doesn’t just help to make them feel more included and build their confidence – it’s also a sure-fire way of getting a wider range of ideas, boosting creativity and allowing suggestions to be properly examined and challenged so that decision-making processes are considered and sustainable.

Building these small behaviours into our daily interactions will have a big impact on your colleagues and creates a virtuous circle where everyone benefits. The more colleagues that behave in an inclusive way, the more people will be encouraged to speak up and contribute, make suggestions and highlight risks. Meetings will be more productive, there will be more curiosity and greater respect for others, colleagues will be more ready to collaborate and help each other out and both individual and team performance will go up.

Kandola+ helps people understand the role they play in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace and guides them on practical daily actions they can take to be an ally. From inclusive teams training to combating bias – if you would like to explore how Kandola+ can support your business in getting more people to do more acts of inclusion more of the time, get in touch.