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Creating a Culture of Inclusion

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” – Verna Myers

Culture is created through strong values that inspire enthusiastic and authentic participation. Hosting social events or guest speakers do not automatically create an inclusive culture. You must thoughtfully plan opportunities for genuine engagement – otherwise it’s just forced fun, and no one likes that.      

Authenticity is the goal of inclusion, and essential to the culture we want to foster at the State of Minnesota. We encourage authenticity and create a culture of inclusion through our language, acts of allyship, and trust within our teams. 

Using Inclusive Language

  • Be aware of gendered terms. We should make space for every facet of identity whenever we can.  Instead of greeting groups as “ladies and gentlemen,” try using words like “everyone,” “folks,” or “people.” 
  • Be aware of ableist terms. Our enterprise has one of the highest percentages of employees with disabilities in the state. Instead of saying “watch" or "listen" try using "access" to be conscious of those with visual or hearing impairments. Instead of saying “walk this way” try using the phrase “go this way” to be conscious of those using mobility aids. 
  • Use correct pronouns. Addressing someone by their pronoun is a sign of respect and dignity, and it’s okay to ask if you’re unsure. To start the conversation, introduce yourself with your own pronouns, then ask for theirs.  

Acting in Allyship 

  • Encourage learning. There is always more to learn as language develops and our communities grow. Do your best to stay informed and encourage your team to do the same. Approach new information with curiosity and an open mind.
  • Call-out bad behavior. Learn to recognize exclusive language, bias, or inaccessibility in the work we do. Be ready to correct others’ mistakes and freely admit your own. Calling-out bad behavior doesn’t always mean hard conversations or formalized warnings – but it might. Don’t tolerate disrespect or indignity if it appears on your team.  
  • Share the spotlight. You are not alone in this push for progress. Express gratitude for others and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. Invite subject matter experts to share their experiences to enrich your conversations and inform your team decisions. 

Building Trust

  • Extend an invite. When we assume we know what our team wants, likes, and knows, we erase the uniqueness of their experiences. Always be open to suggestions. Be intentional with surveys and listening sessions and provide multiple avenues for your team to submit their ideas.
  • Act on feedback. Asking for openness from your team, but then ignoring all input will diminish your creditability. From strategic planning to choosing an icebreaker question, your team will feel empowered when you take their feedback seriously. 
  • Give yourself and others permission to feel. It takes bravery, pride, self-awareness, empathy, humility, and openness from the vast majority of an organization to create an inclusive culture – and it takes all of that, and more, every day. Give yourself and others permission to express themselves as we learn together. 

Resources from the Enterprise

From Minnesota Management and Budget

From Minnesota IT Services

Recommended by Successful Teams

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