Tip 1: Help ensure productive meetings

The situation:

Ever been in a meeting where it’s difficult to get a word in edgewise? Or where one or two people are dominating the conversation? The best meetings include a cacophony of voices but research shows that subtle biases often result in underrepresented employees being interrupted more often than others and not getting credit for their ideas. Relatively simple interventions can make a significant difference both in improving employees’ daily work experience and in realizing the benefits of diverse teams.

What you can do:

  • Solicit the opinion of quieter employees during the meeting or after the fact. Ask to hear from the quieter employees or approach them later to see if they had ideas they would like to share.
  • Implement practices that give everyone a chance to think ahead of time (e.g., send specific questions or ideas for consideration ahead of the meeting).
  • Intervene when someone is being interrupted or not getting credit. Simply commenting along the lines of, “I think _____ was trying to comment a second ago” or “Let’s let ______ finish” can make a big difference in ensuring that all team members are heard.
  • Find a meeting ally who can support you and help notice subtle biases. If you are the person facilitating a meeting, it can be hard to keep track of all the contributions and directions. Invite a partner to be on the lookout for tracking who has spoken, where ideas originate, who wanted to contribute and did not get to, and so on.

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