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How Managers Can Make Casual Networking Events More Inclusive

Harvard Business Review
This article outlines recommendations to address the lack of inclusion in casual networking events in the workplace or outside business hours. Organizing inclusive events that welcome employees from all backgrounds can create long-term change for diversity and inclusion.

  1. Learn more about your employees’ preferences, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. To ensure all women feel included, managers must first understand the practices that exclude them, as well as the barriers that stop them from attending work events (e.g. food, drink, and activities). Likewise, it is important to ask these questions privately to prevent the employee from feeling targeted using one-on-one meetings or anonymous surveys.
  2. Engage a diverse planning committee. Formal company events should have a diverse planning committee that understands how to serve a diverse group of people.
  3. Plan more events that don’t centre on alcohol. Networking events often revolve around alcohol, which can exclude people that don’t drink.
  4. Organize more daytime events. Day or lunchtime events could ensure all employees can participate.
  5. Be intentional when structuring events outside of business hours. Actively engage employees from all backgrounds by organizing events that promote interactions without triggering social anxiety and are considerate of diverse personalities, languages, cultures, ethnicities, and physical abilities.
  6. Be intentional when making connections. Managers should use their influence to foster connections between people that can have a positive impact on employees.
  7. Audit the frequency of events and attendees. Find out how often the team meets informally, as well as formally, and the demographic of attendees each time. This information can guide action.
  8. Constantly look for blind spots and ask for feedback after the event. Request feedback to identify areas of improvement. Likewise, be open and accepting when receiving feedback as this can build trust and promote an inclusive environment.


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