Innovation in Global D&I: a Community Conversation on Inclusion Nudges

During Inclusion NextWork’s June community conversation, Lisa Kepinski, Founder and Director of the Inclusion Institute, explained how Inclusion Nudges can transform organizations. Together with her colleague Tinna Nielsen, Lisa also founded the Inclusion Nudges Sharing Community, where inclusion, diversity, equity & accessibility (IDEA) practitioners from around the world exchange ideas for nudges.  Nudging uses behavioral economics and cognitive research to change people’s behavior. By targeting individuals’ subconscious decision-making, all team members can play a role in strengthening their organization’s IDEA efforts.

[A nudge is] a non-intrusive mental push that will mitigate unconscious associations, thus helping the brain make more objective decisions and promote more inclusive behaviours and cultures that will stick
— - Lisa Kepinski & Tinna Nielsen, Inclusion Nudges Sharing Community

Missed the conversation? Read the recap below and stay tuned for more!                                                        

Context is Key: At the end of the day, your internal team members know what your organization needs to succeed. Lisa reminded participants that there is no “one size fits all” approach to IDEA work. Inclusion Nudges should serve as a catalyst to inspire behavioral change that will resonate with your organization’s culture and may take some adaptation and experimentation.

The Revolution Must be Intersectional: Creating nudges with an intersectional lens is imperative to implementing sustainable solutions. Many organizational IDEA initiatives only address race and gender but fail to incorporate the challenges and stories of other marginalized communities, like LGBTQ individuals or people with disabilities, just to name a few.

Training is Not Enough: Lisa shared that millions of dollars are spent on IDEA training, yet simply raising awareness is insufficient to drive sustainable culture change. Both leaders and individual contributors can and should play a large role in nudging organizations to move beyond training. Find allies in this work and nudge for leadership buy-in to larger, more meaningful solutions. 



Lisa introduced three main types of Inclusion Nudges that have profound impacts on behavior without blatantly incentivizing or threatening people. These nudges are distinct, but not mutually exclusive, and often rely on each other for reinforcement.


1.     Feel the Need

Share emotionally-triggering data to help people notice invisible patterns. People are more motivated when they feel a negative or positive reaction, rather than simply rationalizing a need for change. Examples

  • Share the percentage of marginalized individuals in leadership positions.
  • Display real-life experiences (first person quotes with identifying information taken out) on a wall and have the leaders read them to feel the pain of their colleagues.
  • Quantify the percentage of team members who have felt excluded or who currently feel they don’t belong through an anonymous survey.

2.     Process

Identify points in organizational processes where micro-interventions can mitigate the negative impact of bias. Well understood systems help people make more inclusive, less biased decisions. Examples:

  • Make candidates anonymous in the hiring process by removing identifying details from all resumes to reduce similarity bias.
  • Plan and facilitate inclusive meetings by sending meeting agendas beforehand and collecting responses from all participants via pair share and/or post it notes.
  • Create a system that allows team members to provide immediate positive and constructive feedback on a consistent basis.

3.     Framing

Alter how people perceive IDEA issues. Interrupt individuals’ automatic thinking and catch their attention by presenting data in a different way. Examples:

  • Show “majority” data first instead of “minority.” For example, instead of talking about “increasing diversity,“ talk about your goal of “reducing homogeneity.”
  • Quantify how much a company will lose (rather than gain) if they don’t prioritize IDEA.
  • Humanize the data by attaching photos (only with consent).

Sign up to become a part of the Inclusion Nudges Global Sharing Community through weekly Inclusion Nudges. You can download your free 40-page overview of the 2016 Inclusion Nudges Guidebook and be the first to know when the 2018 version is released this fall.

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About Lisa Kepinski:
Lisa brings over 20 years’ experience working in diverse, global environments as a senior Global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) executive with AXA, Microsoft, & Hewlett-Packard setting strategic direction internationally. In 2013, she founded the Inclusion Institute focused on consultancy, training, coaching, & research. Her special expertise in organizational development and behavioral science integrated with inclusive culture make her a unique resource for change at all levels. She partners with organizations on how to successfully achieve their goals for creating a more inclusive culture for sustainable growth. Together with Tinna Nielsen, Lisa co-authored the Inclusion Nudges Guidebook and co-founded the non-profit Inclusion Nudges Global Initiative. For this innovative work, Lisa and Tinna were named to The Economist’s & The Telegraph’s Global Diversity List as “Top 10 Diversity Consultants” in 2015, 2016, & 2017. Additionally, Lisa gave a TEDx Talk on the need to design for inclusion for behavioural change. Lisa co-authored a global study on improving the effectiveness of women networks, and also co-authored a research report on Inclusion & Diversity actions that have impact published by Newsweek. Lisa has lived in 5 countries and travelled extensively in her global roles. She was born and educated in the US, has worked in Europe for nearly 20 years, and lives in Germany with her family.

Jonathan Braxton