Did you know community builders are called modern-day superhumans who don’t wear capes? One fundamental human need is to “feel belonged”, which people seek in every instance of our lives. As community builders, we cater to this need of mankind through inclusive communities.
We thrive to build spaces that 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, we must understand how to build inclusive communities wherein every member of the community feels that they can share their own unique perspectives, be heard, and not judged for who they are.
Five practices to strengthen inclusiveness in a community
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 asking your members by what pronouns you should address them in the welcome call/post.
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 behavior 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 behavior 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/mental health slurs that are offensive, encourage them to report these people.
Listen to your members
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.
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, 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.
As you start running a community, you will get to learn so many things in the journey that harbor the basic tenets of inclusive communities.
Check out LikeMinds to know more about them.