MReport September 2019

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20 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE An Atmosphere of Inclusion Want to improve inclusion and diversity among your team? Here are 10 ways that will get you started. By Dana Dillard S ome call it "belonging," others call it "community," but no matter what you call it, nailing inclusion as a leader is a must in order to be successful. While it's true that inclusion and diversity go hand- in-hand, inclusion is what makes diversity shine. If people don't feel like they are part of the team and that they aren't valued for who they are, diversity will not be enough to carry the load. As I have become a student of all things D&I, it has become clear to me that it's the little things that make inclusion happen. It's not the big events, big budgets, or even big bonuses; it's the little day-to-day things that get people engaged. In fact, studies have shown that it's the companies with more inclusive teams who are more profitable and more innovative in their thinking. For those who don't welcome in- clusion, they run the risk of getting left behind not only when it comes to innovation, but also when it comes to attracting top talent. Here are 10 easy actions you can take to kick your inclusion efforts into high gear in the workplace. 01 Rethink the way projects are assigned W hen you hand out special projects or high-profile assignments, do you make sure that everyone gets a chance and look for volunteers who might be up for a new challenge? Or do you have your go-to people whom you know well and are familiar with? Consider giving people on the team a chance to step up. You'll likely be surprised by the efforts of some members of your team if given a chance. Of course, those volunteers may need a little encouragement to go out on a limb to do something new. Look at your team holistically and find opportunities for everyone to show their stuff—not just the typical chosen few. 02 Get to know your team A big part of an inclusive environment is getting to know others. At Mr. Cooper, we have piloted a program called "Three About Me," where we ask team members to list three things about themselves on a template and hang it on their wall. As you walk around the office, you see facts about your co-workers that you didn't know, and it creates opportunities for instant con- versation starters. We have had different iterations of the program including: "Three Things on Your Bucket List," "Three Things that Others Don't Know About You," and "Three Things that Make You Proud to Work at Mr. Cooper." The opportunities are endless, and the program has been a huge success when it comes to fostering team comradery. 03 Learn how to pronounce everyone's names W e have all been there. Someone on your team has a name that is difficult to pro- nounce and rather than learning how, we just avoid saying it all together. I don't think this is done from a purposefully negative space, but the end result is the same. Not caring enough to learn how to pronounce someone's name correctly can really give the wrong impression. It can come across as dismissive and send the mes- sage that someone isn't important enough to learn their name. In instances like this, it's easy to say, "Tell me how to pronounce your name so that I get it right," or, "I know I should know how to say your name, but can you repeat it for me—I just want to get it right." I think most people are pretty for- giving as long as the effort is there. 04 Educate yourself on what it means to be inclusive S et aside 30 minutes a week to read an article on inclusion or to watch a speech or a TED Talk on the topic. There are plenty of materials available, you just have to commit to educating yourself on best practices and the issues within this discipline to recognize the opportunities. 05 Make meetings more inclusive I t's important that meetings be a safe space where everyone feels comfortable participating in the discussion. Since people process information differently, be sure to share topics or agenda items for the meeting in advance so that the more analytical team members have time to think about the topic. Once in the meeting, be sure each partici- pant has an opportunity to share their thoughts. Nothing is worse than having one or two people dominate the conversation, so be sure to manage the participation and encourage everyone to share. I once had an industry colleague share with me that he thinks our industry is guilty of "intellectual bullying," that people are look- ing for errors in ideas and that some welcome an opportunity to pounce on others who might share their thoughts. This got me think- ing and really forced me to focus during meetings to ensure every- one feels comfortable to participate in the process so no one feels like a target is on their back.

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