Inclusive Teams Talk About Inclusion

Marissa Ellis
Marissa Ellis

Diversily Founder


It can feel a little scary inviting your team to share candid feedback

What if you don’t like what they say?

What if you don’t have all of the answers?

What if they are feeling worse than you thought?

What if the conversations makes minority voices feel even more excluded?

What if you can’t address all of their concerns?

All of these thoughts are very common and the reason why a lot of leaders choose not to open up the conversation.

To be brave enough to request candid feedback, you have to be brave enough to deal with what you hear.

By seeking the truth, with a positive outlook, you will be taking your team in the right direction, rather than papering over any cracks. Inclusive teams and cultures embrace difficult conversations and achieve more together.

The Diversily Inclusion Ideathon

The Diversily Inclusion Ideathon is a unique, action orientated, inspiring, team building event to encourage courageous conversations and co-creation of solutions to increase workplace diversity & inclusion. You can run it at your organisation or read on for a simple structure you can use in your next team meeting to open up conversations about inclusion. 

How can you become a more inclusive leader?

People often ask what they can do to become a more inclusive leader. 

They are looking for industry practice, but they have never really spoken to their team. At Diversily we have a catalogue of industry best practice of over 400 inclusive actions.  However, often success is about finding the solutions that are right for your unique circumstances. The answers are often closer than you think and success is more likely if you co-create solutions rather than inflict them upon people. 

Inclusive teams make everyone feel welcome. They understand everyone has unique needs and preferences yet make everyone feel valued and like they belong. They don’t just talk about the work that needs to be done. They talk about how people are feeling and how they can help each other. They prioritise these kinds of discussions and have them regularly, because they know that building strong relationships will provide a foundation for future team success. 

Top Tips For Talking To Your Team About Inclusion

We recommend that people managers and team leaders schedule in a session with their team to talk about inclusion. Seriously. Look at a your calendar now. Make it happen!

 Here are a few tips to make sure your conversation goes well:

  • Really listen to what people are saying and make sure all voices are heard. Try to see the world through their eyes, not yours. 
  • Don’t jump to defend or justify. Warning! This means going against human instinct! 
  • Ask questions to build understanding and explore solutions. Always keep the conversation positive, even if the topic is challenging. 
  • Commit to follow up. Inviting feedback and not doing anything about it, is worse than not asking at all. This doesn’t mean you need to implement everything, but it does mean you need to provide a response and provide transparency on what will be taken forward. 

The Change Canvas Inclusive Teams Flow

At Diversily templates and frameworks are our speciality.  We have lots of tools and resources you can use to facilitate a conversation with your team on diversity and inclusion. 

Inclusive team change canvas

One of our favourites templates is The Change Canvas Inclusive Teams flow. If you are looking for something a bit more prescriptive, below is an example agenda you can use to guide your discussion using this template. 

Before your session create a blank Change Canvas with the suggested question in each board and space for post it notes below. Pre-populate the vision board with a starting point for what an inclusive team means to you.


Example Agenda

Here is an example agenda for a 1 hour session with 8-12 people. You may need to adapt it based on team size and the likely discussion you think will emerge. 

5 mins – Setting the scene: Explain the purpose of the session then share your personal ‘why’ for why you believe diversity and inclusion is important, ensure people understand the difference between diversity and inclusion and share an initial vision statement of what an inclusive team means to you. 

10 mins – Results: Bring everyone into the room by inviting everyone to share one thing that makes your team inclusive already. Encourage people to share something new if their idea has already been shared – but don’t force the point. Invite a scribe to capture these points in The Change Canvas Results board. 

20 mins – Reflection: Invite people to take 5 mins to share anonymously in The Change Canvas Reflection Board. This gives people freedom to speak their truth and also to hear from all voices.  Ask everyone to share reasons people might feel excluded or specific challenges your team faces. Once some ideas emerge take some time to discuss and listen. 

20 mins – Vision and Ideas: Invite people to comment on your initial vision statement in The Change Canvas Vision Board. You can choose to explore how you’ll know if you have been successful and whether there are any specific goals you’d like to set yourself. Once you have agreed on what ‘good’ looks like invite people to share ideas that could be put into practice in The Change Canvas Ideas Board. A mix of thinking, writing and talking time works well. 

5 mins – Action: Conclude your session by agreeing on next steps. Perhaps this is a personal commitment from everyone, or voting on the ideas in the ideas board to take forward and move to the Action Board, or a follow up session to focus on a particular area. 

Remember: This is just the first conversation. The goal is not to have it all wrapped up in an hour but to create a space for candid feedback and discussion. If you run out of time but emerge with some specific actions, a deeper understanding of your team and an appetite to make this a recurring conversation, this is a win. 

We are delighted you have chosen to join us on our collaborative mission for positive change. 

Good luck! 

P.S. We love feedback. If you follow this agenda drop us a line let us know how it goes. 


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