How are you and your team celebrating Black History Month this February? If you haven’t already, take some time over the next few weeks to acknowledge the history of BHM and start a discussion with your team. You don’t have to be a D&I practitioner to facilitate this dialogue; In fact, employee-led conversations can empower people to get involved and share ideas more openly. No matter the topic, here are a few guidelines for fostering a meaningful conversation straight from our Inclusive Management workshop:
1. PICK A TIME THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE (OR INCORPORATE INTO AN ALREADY-ESTABLISHED MEETING)
It may be hard to find a time on everyone’s calendar, and these discussions are often the first to be rescheduled to make room for client needs or imperative tasks. The key to sustainable progress is to carve out time that works for all team members. Perhaps mornings aren’t ideal for employees who need to drop their kids off at daycare or evenings don’t work for a staff member who cares for an aging parent. The JB team is incorporating discussions about Black History Month into our regularly scheduled weekly Team Regroups on Monday morning to ensure that we are consistent and committed to learning.
2. DISTRIBUTE MATERIALS IN ADVANCE
Like any meeting, an agenda or purpose should be shared well in advance of the meeting so participants can prepare and collect their thoughts. A diverse team consists of different types of learners: some will need more time to process while others can jump in automatically. If you cannot share items in advance, be sure to send a follow-up email with resources or a summary of the discussion and commitments. The JB Team has been working through conversation prompts from our DEI Toolkit for our monthly hour long DEI deep dives.
3. ESTABLISH GROUND RULES FOR A SAFE SPACE
Below are a few ground rules we recommend in order to cultivate a safe space for sharing. Feel free to showcase these guidelines in a shared space during the conversation – whether they be hung up in the conference room or captured in the Zoom chat.
☐ Participate in the spirit of collaboration
☐ Listen to understand, not to respond
☐ Seek to understand before seeking to be understood
☐ We might not always agree…and that’s okay
☐ Ask the hard questions instead of making the easy assumptions
4. CLOSE OUT THE MEETING WITH COMMITMENTS
There should always be an action item for every team member involved in the conversation – no matter how big or small. Empower employees to commit to one thing and hold them accountable to share their progress in the next conversation.
Remember, these meetings can be informal and still meaningful, so no need to spend hours on a PowerPoint presentation! This month, each member of the JB team is celebrating Black history by sharing one historical story or experience that resonated with them, and one person who is making history in the current day. To kick us off, Courtney told us all about Raye Montague – check out The Girl with a Mind for Math! At the end of the month, we’ll compile all of our takeaways in a blog post, so stay tuned for more!