4 Ways to Make Your Coworkers Feel Included Without a DEI Course

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Ekua Cant206
Career Transitions & Career Change Coach

You're a talented and unique bunch with different skills, customs, and traditions. That’s so awesome! Sometimes it can feel a bit awkward to learn about other people’s customs or traditions without being ignorant or intrusive. 

I think that the best thing to remember is that people don’t mind being asked about their heritage, customs and beliefs if it comes from a place of genuine interest and a desire to understand another human being at a human-to-human level. 

I believe the best way to be inclusive is to be empathetic, to ask open questions, and to acknowledge if you unintentionally cause offense or embarrassment because a colleague doesn’t want to talk openly about their background, food, or customs. If someone doesn't feel comfortable and you see this, then don't ponder further.

These 4 tips will help you to create a more inclusive team culture by creating space for difference, understanding, and celebration of each and every unique member of the team. 

1. Create a space to be human and celebrate team members as individuals. 

Make it a regular occurrence to celebrate team and individual success. A celebration here is not just meant in the context of a victory. It is also meant in the context of coming together to overcome a challenge, resolve a problem or meet a deadline. When celebrating team members, be specific and mention any challenges they overcame. Appreciate when a team member does something out of their comfort zone and recognize them genuinely amongst the team. Have a regular celebration or shout-out spot in your team meetings where all are encouraged to recognize each team member for their contribution. 

2. Adjust to different working styles. 

Not all disabilities, medical conditions, or neurodiversity are visible. In order to create an inclusive team culture without making anyone feel awkward, it may be helpful for everyone on the team to fill out a short team biography sharing a bit about them including their working preferences. This should not only be shared with the team manager, but with all team members. Recognizing that people work in different ways and allowing that to be respected and built into the team dynamic will allow for a more inclusive working and productive working culture.  

3. Review how you run team meetings. 

Team meetings tend to be a focal point for teams. But what can make team meetings painful is if they are not done in an effective way. One easy way to check if the meeting is meeting the needs of team members is to have a standing item on the agenda that asks for improvement ideas for recurring team meetings. 

4. Feature cultural traditions.

To create more understanding of different cultures, holidays and customs it is helpful to ask team members which holidays they celebrate. And to ask them if they would like to share about that holiday or custom as a way to provide greater understanding in a fun and social way.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Ekua Cant is an author and career clarity coach. She is no stranger to career change or transitions and is using her positive style to coach ambitious women to unlock their mindset, gain career clarity and create career success on their own terms. She is the author of a motivational self-help book called, Be Your No.1 Cheerleader, which uses the entrepreneurial journey to encourage active positive self-development. Ekua started her career as a personal assistant to a Director working in the UK Civil Service, working with numerous Government Departments the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and left as an IT Project Manager. Whilst working in the Civil Service she founded 2 startups, Layover Adventure and the Hackathon Queen. She is an advocate for Black Women in Tech and Co-Vice Chair of (TLA Black Women in Tech). 

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for making your coworkers feel included at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!