Creating Inclusive Meetings
Collaborations provides a unique opportunity for direct communication among local Arctic communities, U.S. state and federal agencies, and researchers across academic, non-governmental, industry, Indigenous, and international organizations. Much of the work of Collaborations takes place during monthly collaboration team meetings. These guidelines are designed to help team leaders and collaboration team participants create inclusive online meetings. The Secretariat will work with Team Leads to habituate these practices within Collaboration Teams. We recognize that it will take time and practice to make our meetings fully inclusive, but that this effort is critical to the mission of our organization as a whole.
Including Phone-Only Participants
Video conferencing (via Zoom) is an invaluable tool for sharing resources, information, and ideas in a remote format. However, the full features of Zoom are not available to all participants because of limited internet access, bandwidth, or agency restrictions. Joining Zoom as a phone-only participant can create a barrier to engagement and participation in Collaborations. This is particularly concerning because it limits our ability to work with Indigenous participants and other remote Arctic community members. These groups are a key constituency of Collaborations, and it is the responsibility of Collaboration Team Leads and the Secretariat to make meetings engaging and accessible to phone-only participants. Ways to effectively include phone participants include:
- Take the time to have phone-only participants introduce themselves verbally in addition to chat introductions. Let the phone-only participants know who else is in the meeting or breakout room. If it is a large meeting, letting phone-only participants know how many other people are attending is sufficient.
- When doing verbal introductions, invite phone-only participants to go first. (If possible, rename numbers with participant names.)
- Ask presenters to post all slides/materials a day or two before the call so phone-only participants are able to access them prior to the meeting. Notify participants that materials can be downloaded on the website prior to the meeting. If you have phone-only participants, ask the presenters to give periodic verbal cues about which slide they are on.
- Remind phone-only participants at the beginning of the call and before Q&A that they can use *6 to mute and unmute themselves and *9 to raise their hand.
- Ask for questions from phone-only participants specifically during the Q&A. It can be hard to jump in when you can’t see the other participants, especially when the Q&A is moving quickly. Leave at least 10 seconds for people to unmute themselves – it takes longer on the phone.
- Read all chat questions and comments out loud before addressing them.
- Ask video participants to say their name before asking a question. This can make the conversation easier to follow for phone-only participants and helps build community.
- If you are in a breakout room with a phone-only participant, announce to them that the breakout room has begun; otherwise they will not know they have moved from the main room. Similarly, when all participants are brought back to the main room, announce that this has occurred.
- Thank all participants at the end of the call, and, if it feels appropriate, specifically acknowledge the extra effort that it takes to participate via phone.
Pronouns and Gendered Language
Collaborations members are encouraged – though not required – to introduce themselves with their pronouns. (E.g., “My name is ____, and my pronouns are they/them.”) This normalizes the possibility that a person’s pronouns may not match their appearance, and creates a more inclusive space for transgender, genderqueer, and other gender-variant participants. More information about pronouns is available on the GLSEN website.
Team members should also avoid gendered language when possible. Examples of gendered language and alternatives include:
- Unmanned → uncrewed
- Manpower → workforce
- Chairman → chair or chairperson
- Guys → everyone or folks or people
- He/she → they
More examples of and information about inclusive language is available on the European Geosciences Union website.
Much of Arctic science operates within a framework of colonization. Land acknowledgements are one way to recognize the contributions, history, and continued existence of Indigenous communities in the places we live and work. Collaborations members are encouraged to consider integrating land acknowledgements into their meetings and introductions where they feel it is appropriate. The Native Land website and app is a good resource for beginning to familiarize yourself with the Indigenous Peoples of the region you are in.
Including a Diversity of Participants
Collaborations members and team leads should strive to include a diversity of voices in meetings. This requires making space for everyone participating in a meeting to speak. Additionally, when considering speakers, team leaders should make sure they are drawing from a diverse cohort of possible presenters – e.g., that speakers are not all white or all men.
Additional Considerations During and Other Work-From-Home Situations
- Especially during the pandemic, many people are working from home and juggling childcare, petcare, and sharing space with family members who are also working from home. It can be helpful to acknowledge that interruptions are understandable and often inevitable. If time allows, encouraging meeting participants to introduce their young or animal coworkers can help dispel some of the stigma surrounding interruptions.
- The pandemic is stressful. Consider implementing a check-in at the beginning of meetings to see how people are doing and ask if there are measures the group can take to support one another.
Have additional suggestions for creating inclusive meetings? Please email them to Liz Weinberg, web manager & community coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.