Making our Communities Inclusive and Breathable

Sangeeta Gupta
Sep 22 · 4 min read

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Community Folks

Welcome to the community of Community Managers in India!

Community Folks

Welcome to the community of Community Managers in India! CommunityFolks is an effort to bring all the Community Managers + Tech Evangelists + Relation Managers + any People Person under one roof where they can teach as well as learn from each other's experiences.

Sangeeta Gupta

Written by

Community Manager, LikeMinds | Facebook Certified Community Manager | Community Lead at Facebook Developer Circles, Pune | Grace Hopper Celebration India Schola

Community Folks

Welcome to the community of Community Managers in India! CommunityFolks is an effort to bring all the Community Managers + Tech Evangelists + Relation Managers + any People Person under one roof where they can teach as well as learn from each other's experiences.