According to a recent Forbes report, employees spend between 35%-50% of their workday in meetings. That may sound awful, but it’s also an opportunity to use all that meeting time to foster a culture of belonging. 

Companies where employees feel a strong sense of belonging are 35 percent more likely to outperform their competition and achieve increased innovation, greater success with recruiting and retaining talent and greater financial returns.

Whether you’re meetings are virtual, in-person or hybrid, here are five easy ways to make your meetings more inclusive in order to achieve better results:

  • Focus on the “what”, not the “how”. At start of meetings, reinforce how the meeting aligns with a shared vision, mission and purpose to unify everyone around “good commonalities” while being open to diverse perspectives and approaches to achieve shared goals. 
  • Invite input. Practice asking, “what do you think?” more often during meetings to encourage ideas. And remember to be open to what you hear by seeking to understand, not to agree. Assume you can always learn even when you don’t always agree.
  • Listen and repeat. Challenge yourself to be the last person to speak up in meetings to minimize the tendency for others to agree with the boss. Challenge yourself to repeat what you heard after someone speaks to reinforce you were listening and accurately understanding. 
  • Ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Do not assume someone’s silence means they agree with the discussion or they have nothing to contribute. Instead, intentionally invite those who have not spoken to share their thoughts. Routinely ask if anyone has anything else to add before ending a meeting.
  • Integrate team building into every meeting. Team building should not be a one and done experience, but should be maintained on an ongoing basis. Find ways to incorporate relationship building into the day-to-day work experiences. Carve out a few minutes at the end of meetings to have colleagues share about interests, hobbies, traditions or bucket-list items.

DEI Jump Start Program for Small Businesses

Looking for more easy to implement approaches to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into your workplace culture? Check out my DEI Jump Start Program designed specifically for small businesses. 

You don’t need a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer or big initiatives to spark change. The key to achieving sustainable DEI outcomes is to focus on embracing an inclusive mindset rooted in curiosity and understanding towards others first.

My mindset-first program makes DEI concepts approachable and relevant with opportunities for all employees to apply DEI principles in their day-to-day to improve their employee experience and actively contribute to a culture of belonging.