Making Your Business More Inclusive: A How-To Guide

On the surface, you might believe that you’re someone who is inclusive. You might believe you openly embrace people regardless of ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. But, you’re probably wrong.

The implicit association bias test was created to help people uncover underlying, subconscious biases, so they can become more aware of how their brain reacts to various people. This is a self-examination test designed to help people eliminate biases that are often implicit or unrecognized.

Your business likely operates with an implicit association bias too. Although unintentional, it’s a good idea to take steps to actively eliminate these biases and become more inclusive. Here are a few ways how.

Let Someone Else Take the Helm

Do you always have the same person running your meetings? If so, you’ve fallen into a pattern where that person leads and the others follow. This is a common pattern to fall into but also a dangerous one if you’re not careful. Try letting someone else take the helm by rotating who runs your meetings. You never know what a new leadership style could inspire from your team.

Go Beyond Talking “Just the Business”

One of the easiest ways to get to know someone is to talk to them. Too often we fall into a rut of talking exclusively about work and avoiding small talk in an effort to avoid wasting time. Although small chit chat might feel like a productivity killer, it’s actually one of the best ways to get to know people who live a different lifestyle than you.

Make a conscious effort to talk to your colleagues about something that happens outside of the workplace. You never know what you’ll learn about the person on the other side of the desk from you. Better yet, you never know what you’ll find out you have in common with that person. Someone who you thought was different than you might have a shared interest which can open the door to forging a deeper relationship for the long run. These deeper relationships can lead to a more unified workplace where everyone feels embraced.

Watch Your Language

Many times, words can hurt unintentionally. You might say something without realizing how it impacts the person receiving your message. This is especially true when people come from a different background than you.

As you’re talking, think carefully about how your message could be perceived. Are you lacing your words with an undertone of assumption? If so, your message could come out unintentionally offensive. Think carefully about the words you choose.

Encourage Conversation

So often, we operate with an implicit bias without ever realizing how we come across to other people. As you take steps to become more aware of how inclusive your business is, be sure to talk to people who come from different backgrounds. The more you can get to know these people, the better you’ll understand how messages are received, making you a better communicator and more inclusive overall.

Take the Test

As you work to become more inclusive in your business, take the implicit bias test and uncover your true mindset. The more you know about how your brain is wired to think, the more you can do to correct it.

By Andrew Patricio

January 21, 2019