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Overcome Status and Role Barriers to Speak About Inclusion

Discover how to leverage your status and role in the workplace to speak up for inclusion.

Brief Summary

Status and Role are the factors that can influence your ability to speak up about inclusion in the workspace. This concept examines whether you are able to share your beliefs on inclusion or whether your particular status or role in the organization limits your speaking up due to concern for company policy or the need to consistently support the decisions of others. An individual with a lower status in the company might perceive that speaking up about inclusion falls beyond their purview. On the other hand, someone occupying a higher organizational position could be anxious about potential consequences tied to advocating for inclusion. In both scenarios, a low score on the Status and Role dimension signals a barrier to openly express inclusion-related views.

However, irrespective of your professional rank, your individual standpoint plays a significant role in creating an inclusive work culture. Within workplaces, this pillar highlights the importance of open dialogues, where your unique standpoint contributes to building an inclusive environment. By speaking up about inclusion despite your status and role, you contribute to a workspace where diverse perspectives are treasured and where individuals feel empowered to contribute their unique perspectives, leading to a more productive and harmonious team dynamic.


Those in lower positions might feel that their opinions carry less weight or worry about overstepping boundaries. They may feel that their role lacks the authority to influence decisions and their input won't lead to meaningful change. They might also feel intimidated to voice their opinions, especially if the hierarchical structure emphasizes top-down decision-making.

Individuals occupying higher positions might fear consequences for saying the “wrong” thing or facing judgment from colleagues. Feeling that they represent the company, they feel they risk the company’s reputation when speaking up about sensitive topics.


Anyone who has conversed about sensitive topics knows the fear of saying something wrong. Leaders, in particular, need support to navigate cancel culture. When you make a misstep - and you will - how you react is more important than what you did/said wrong. Discussing DEI in the workplace becomes more comfor-table and less like a minefield with this approach: willingness to admit what you don’t know; familiarity with DEI terminology; curiosity about the dynamics of inclusion (how unintended advantages and disadvanta-ges influence different employee segments); a growth mindset that embraces vulnerability in communications and preparation for addressing mistakes.

dei progress

Proposed Actions

  • Engage in Open Dialogues that encourage listening: We all need to take responsibility for our own learning and can’t put the burden on underrepresented groups to educate us. However, it is critical to provide opportunities for voluntary sharing. Initiate and participate in open discussions about inclusion within your team and organization. Encourage curiosity among colleagues to learn about others’ perspectives.
  • Promote Allyship in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): ERGs provide a supportive space for marginalized groups to share their experiences. At the same time they enable allies to learn about those challenges and ways to advocate for change.
  • Foster a Growth Mindset: Blaming and shaming gets in the way of growth. If the number one goal is to avoid missteps, conversations about inclusion will only occur at a surface level. Assume good intent and use missteps as an opportunity for learning. At the same time, expect individuals to take responsibility for the impact of their words/actions regardless of intent.
  • Lean into the uncomfortable and just do it.

Valued Guidance

Implementation Plan

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