Did you know community builders are called modern day superhumans who don’t wear capes? One of the fundamental human needs is to “feel belonged” and this is what people seek for in every instance of their lives. As community builders, we cater to this need of mankind through communities.
We thrive to build spaces which nurture this sense of mutual belongingness and drive members towards the common community purpose. It is merely impossible to drive this belonging if we don’t acknowledge that people in our communities walk in from various diverse backgrounds in terms of culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, experiences etc. Members will avoid events and discussion threads if they feel other members would reject / discriminate against them based on their backgrounds.
Hence it is crucial for us to understand how to build inclusive communities wherein every single member of the community feels that they can share their own unique perspective, be heard and not judged for who they are.
Five ways to make it happen
Listen to your members
If a goal is to make each other feel valued and equal, it is important to keep an open mind, reserve judgment, and practice the skill of deep listening. Make an effort to talk to your members, especially those from underrepresented groups, to understand how they are feeling in the community and what you could do better to make them feel belonged in this space.You could keep a track of their participation and take in constant feedback to measure inclusiveness in your community.
Have community guidelines against discrimination
You want to spread the awareness around inclusivity by defining what it is, why it matters for your community and what would be the repercussions for those who discriminate against other members on these grounds by adding them in your community guidelines. This is a way of publicly putting out to the members of your community that you are looking to make everyone feel included here and wouldn’t tolerate any behaviour that goes against it.
Educate moderators and inner circle on inclusion practices
Your moderators and inner circle are the people who guide your members and implement the expected behaviour in the community. You want to spend some time educating them on being more encouraging and welcoming towards the diverse people who join the community and being careful with the language such that it hurts no one’s sentiments.
For instance, ask them to be mindful when using slurs. If they observe others in the community using racial / ethnic / mental health slurs which are offensive, sexiest / homophobic language, encourage them to report these people.
Use gender neutral language in community content
When creating any form of content for your community or moderating discussion threads, you might want to be mindful of the words you use. You want to be gender neutral such that your words don’t come out as discriminatory or biased towards a particular gender. For instance, using “Hi people/folks/members” over “Hi guys” in content salutation, using “They” over “S/He” as pronouns for content addressed to a larger group of people. You could also start by asking your members what pronouns you should address them in the welcome call / post.
Educate yourself and lead by example
You can’t obviously become an inclusive leader in a day. You want to keep educating yourself around diversity and inclusion through workshops, blogs, talking to people and other content. Be vocal about your learnings in this space in your community. When members see you making an effort, they will join you too.
That’s it for the day, folks! This is one of my personal favourite pieces that I had published on LikeMinds during the pride month. I hope you enjoyed it .Be sure to follow me for more articles on ALL THINGS COMMUNITY and comment for any feedback you might have about this article.
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Sangeeta Gupta - Community Manager - LikeMinds | LinkedIn
Sangeeta is passionate about building sustainable tech ecosystems and advocates for the growth of women in technology…