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Empower Employees to Speak Up about Inclusion

Learn how to constructively speak up about organizational or work-related problems and concerns.

Brief Summary

Inclusion is defined as a sense of belongingness with our peers and knowing we are valued for our differences. In order to create a culture of inclusion, we need to discuss our differences and the challenges that follow. This requires the skills that foster a safe space for uncomfortable conversations.

Unfortunately, many people describe talking about inclusion as a “mine field” or being afraid of saying something wrong. Cancel culture has fuelled the fear of making a mis-step. When our main goal is to avoid the liabilities of doing something wrong, we miss the opportunity to build trusting relationships, to make honest mistakes, and to learn. In a climate of silence, employees feel restrained from constructively speaking up about organizational or work-related problems, concerns, or challenges.


There are both external and internal reasons why someone might not be able to speak up and share their beliefs:

  • Psychological Safety: Are employees free to discuss inclusion, regardless of their beliefs, without fear of judgement & consequences?
  • Status and Role: Does a particular status or role in the organization afford leeway or prevent someone from sharing their inclusion beliefs?
  • Mimicry: Is there pressure to go along with inappropriate comments or actions to fit in?
  • Inhibition: Are people naturally cautious with their opinions?


Identify where your employees are on the speaking up scale:

  • Vocal: able to be very vocal about their beliefs
  • Cautious: able to express their thoughts and ideas when it’s important, but assessing the risks & rewards of discussing inclusion at work
  • Muted: unable to share their internal thoughts and perspectives on DEI or join constructive conversations

Identify the factors contributing to the ability to speak up.

Take action to create a safer environment for speaking up.

dei progress

Proposed Actions

  • Self-reflect on your assumptions and your behavior: if you’re vocal, make sure you don’t shut others down. Embrace dialogue, not debate.
  • Hold yourself accountable: don’t excuse your intent; take responsibility for your impact & learn how to improve.
  • Speak up: address inappropriate behaviors or comments when you see them in your workplace.
  • Learn: ask people if they feel heard and what you can do to create a supportive environment.
  • Empower others: assure them that their voices matter & that everyone can play a role in changing workplace culture.
  • Reciprocate: identify like-minded colleague, ask them to support you when you speak up, offering to do the same for them.

Valued Guidance

Implementation Plan

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