Cue Auld Lang Syne. Pop open the champagne (or cider). Put on your Sunday best.
2021 is about to make a drawn-out departure like a Midwest dad at an event, and 2022 is about to make her ‘oh so faaaaaabulous’ arrival.
The new year celebration symbolizes the closing of a chapter of the year and the start of a new one. With this comes the setting of a resolution for the new year; a meaningful goal to be a center of focus. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but according to time management firm FranklinCovey, one third of resolutioners don’t make it past the end of January.
By this success rate, new year’s resolutions can be perceived as a joke. People go into the new year energized and ready to take on the year. They spend thousands of dollars on gym memberships, healthy food, and diet plan programs. They quit smoking or drinking. They create a budget. By the end of the month, the resolution is all but done and old habits continue.
Year after year, I was one of those who would set resolutions only to have them dissipate by the end of January. In all of my years, I only followed through with one resolution.
In early 2020, I made the decision to “become physically healthy”. I changed my diet and began working out actively. I lost a total of 80 pounds by the end of September. My health and my outlook on life improved.
In the summer of 2020 at the height of the unrest for the fight of social justice, I decided to add making my mind healthy into my resolution. This was nothing new as like many DEI practitioners, we are always learning. I began reading books, researching journals, and watching films. By the end of 2020, I read over 120 books and earned an Executive Certificate in Diversity & Inclusion. At the end of the year, I was under 200 lbs. and my mind and heart was more aware of the social justice battle that was going on in our country and I prepared for interactions that would come because of it.
Resolutions can work when they are achievable, realistic, and not too vague. It takes commitment, discipline, and a mindset change.
In my daily work, I often get the question “how can I be more inclusive?” Inclusion is the state of being valued, respected and supported. When this question is posed to me, often the individual is wanting to create an environment of support and belonging but is unaware of where to start. So, this begs the question, why not make being inclusive a new year’s resolution? Its achievable, realistic, and not too vague.
A resolution is made reality through our own actions and can carry into both personal and professional life. Inclusion is created through small acts, but have large, impactful results.
Over the years, I have compiled a list of ways you can be more inclusive in your personal and professional life. These items, 70 to be exact, are good starting points for any person who is looking to create inclusion in all areas of their life but are at a standstill on where to begin.
Of course, this list is a start and not all inclusive (I tried!).
Take ownership of educating yourself. Do not ask someone to do it for you.
Embrace learning something new.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Leave your assumptions at the door.
Ask quieter colleagues within in a meeting “what do you think?”
Ask others how you can help – and follow through.
Ask yourself who is missing from your meeting that would be a great addition or have added benefit to the topic.
Understand who will be impacted by your decision and involve them in the process.
Be an advocate for those who are different than you.
Be genuinely curious about others and their life journey.
Ask others for their pronouns.
Talk about something other than work.
Be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
Practice vulnerability with others and use those moments as an opportunity of growth.
Earn your place as an ally.
Align your language with the identity of others.
Ask about boundaries and respect them when they’re provided.
Establish your own boundaries and stay true to them.
Create personal inclusion values and find ways to apply and share them with others.
Identify your own biases and challenge them.
Include your pronouns in your E-mail signature or web meeting name to create a sense of belonging for all.
Practice using inclusive or neutral language. Example: partner instead of husband/wife.
Read books that focus on topics within Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and/or books written by diverse authors.
Start a book club that focus around DEI topics and/or written by diverse authors to continue the conversation on inclusion.
Attend cultural events in your community and share them with your networks.
Attend community cultural events that focus on forms of art and performance such as a Pow-Wow or a Drag Show.
Join an Employee Resource Group at your workplace.
Watch documentaries that focus on historical events with marginalized populations. “Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.”
Watch films directed by LGBTQ+ people, persons of color, persons with disabilities, and women.
Bounce an idea off someone unexpected in your social circle or your organization.
Listen to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion podcasts or videos that differ from your perspective.
Try food from different cultures and nationalities.
Learn about the holidays your teammates celebrate and encourage everyone to celebrate with them.
Learn more about your colleagues and let them learn more about you.
During team meetings, create a culture of sharing personal milestones and weekend highlights.
When holding in-person food events, ask everyone about food allergies or dietary restrictions.
Pause to question feelings of discomfort or defensiveness before reacting to new circumstances or diverse individuals. It’s important to think about why you might feel discomfort and what you can do to overcome it.
Admit you don’t know something. It’s ok to admit you don’t know.
Recognize and celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries for every team member.
Create a calendar to track birthdays and anniversaries so they’re not forgotten.
Organize a team engagement committee to keep teams connected through fun activities.
Celebrate a holiday that you traditionally may not have celebrated in the past.
Revise job descriptions to create equitable access and opportunity.
Rotate meeting leaders so diverse styles of leadership are represented.
Create a culture of transparency with a team. Example: why certain teammates are chosen for certain projects.
Diversify job interview panels and project teams so different perspectives are represented.
Treat interns the same as you would a full-time employee. Ask for their perspective and engage them in the work of the organization.
Create spaces that team members can voice their questions or provide feedback for potential changes within the organization.
Ask people how to pronounce their names. Make an effort to remember the pronunciation or ask again.
Speak up on behalf of others when you hear someone’s name mispronounced.
Speak up when you see and hear acts of exclusion or implicit bias.
Include a virtual option for all meetings.
Take a training on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion topics and put the items you learn into practice.
Make Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a continuous goal to build upon.
Learn and understand key terms, definitions, and hot topics surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Ask attendees about accommodations and needs prior to a meeting, event, workshop to ensure equitable accessibility.
Engage in someone else’s interests even if it is not your own.
Acknowledge and appreciate when someone shares a different point of view.
Assume positive intent.
Embrace your authenticity and the authenticity of others.
Listen for understanding, rather than to be understood.
Share your “why” with others and allow them to share their “why” with you.
Dedicate initiative to learn more about individuals that share different life experiences than you.
Visit a business owned by a person of color, LGBTQ+ persons, veteran, and/or women.
Share your own biases with others and ask others to challenge them.
Encourage others to challenge status quo.
Celebrate personal successes and the successes of others.
In 2022, make an effort to be more inclusive in your personal and professional life. If there is something that has worked for you to be more inclusive, be sure to put them in the comment section on this page. Have a safe, healthy, and inclusive 2022!