Q: What are some ways I can educate my employees about inclusion and equity?

A: Inclusion in the workplace is widely agreed to mean creating an environment where people feel a strong sense of belonging and where they can also be their authentic selves. What this looks like is everyone in the organization is heard, seen, and valued for their contributions and work efforts and for their individuality. Equity refers to fair and just access to resources, opportunities and support networks of peers and leaders.

The first and most important lesson about educating employees on these topics is to "meet them where they are." And the best way to start is to encourage dialogue and conversation about their own experiences, background and personal life histories. During training at the National SEED Project (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity), one technique required everyone in a meeting or discussion get a chance to speak on the topic — with a time limit. We all have experienced the team member who likes to wax poetically or pragmatically about their ideas! By using this technique, you are demonstrating and teaching inclusion and equity.

Next, I recommend you make it a regular discussion topic at team, department or organization-wide meetings. Doing so encourages quieter members to participate more. You could ask for success stories with being inclusive and equitable, or ask employees to highlight where attention needs to be placed to grow in these areas.

It is helpful to set some short- and long-term goals for inclusion and equity outcomes. This could be a learning goal, such as reading a book collectively as a team or watching a documentary and having a conversation about it; or it could be more oriented toward your organization, such as conducting an assessment like the IDI (Intercultural Development Inventory) to determine where employees are on their learning journey toward accepting and adapting to cultural differences. Most importantly, to teach inclusion and equity successfully, you should consider how to reward employees for participating in educational opportunities and advancing inclusion and equity goals.

Rama Hart is an associate professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.