5 top tips on starting a conversation about Inclusion and Diversity

This year’s theme for National Inclusion Week is #UnitedForInclusion. A great way to start to unite for inclusion is by having a conversation, but we appreciate that this is not always easy. Some of your colleagues will be more engaged that others and the topic of inclusion and diversity can be uncomfortable for some.

Here are Inclusive Employer’ 5 top tips to get you started:

1. Make it comfortable

Topics such as racism, transphobia, and islamophobia can be uncomfortable to talk about (but that’s a good thing!). Don’t let the uncomfortable topics go undiscussed, focus on what you can do to put people at ease. For example, setting ground rules, reiterating behaviour standards, or creating small, relaxed environments where people can sit on sofas with a cup of tea.

2. Ask for permission

You may be aware that your colleague is LGBTQ+, Black or Asian, or has a disability, but this doesn’t mean they wish to discuss their identity. Ask them! You could start by asking “would you mind telling me about your culture/disability/gender identity? I would like to understand more”. This way the person is given the opportunity to decline the conversation if they feel uncomfortable.

3. Ask open questions

“Have you ever felt excluded?” or “What does inclusion mean to you?”. Open questions lead to open discussions which can be interesting and thought-provoking for all. Our explainer on the meaning of inclusion, diversity and equality may help.

4. Listen

Conversations aren’t always about what you say, a lot of the powerful moments are in what you don’t say, particularly when you are listening and giving others the opportunity to share. If you are a line manager, why not ask an inclusion question in your one-to-ones and just listen to your colleague’s answer. You don’t need to know anything about inclusion and diversity to be a good listener.

5. Invite others

Your team may not feel ready to share their perspectives or experiences. In that case, invite someone in. You could get a professional speaker or someone from another team, such as a chair of a staff network, to give a presentation to your team. To feel comfortable we need psychological safety which can take a long time to build, give your team that time by finding other ways to learn about inclusion and diversity.

Try to start at least one conversation about inclusion and diversity each day of National Inclusion Week. If you’d like to do this in a more structured way, check out the National Inclusion Week toolkit for workshop templates that you can use with your teams.

Share what you have learnt, how it made you feel and what you enjoyed about it with us on Twitter or LinkedIn  and tagging Inclusive Employers and we will share your experience on our social media channels. Don’t forget to use the National Inclusion Week hashtags – #UnitedForInclusion and #NationalInclusionWeek2021!

If you or your organisations need more support to build an inclusive culture, explore our website to find out more about Inclusive Employers membership, training, consultancy, qualifications and the Inclusive Employers Standard accreditation.