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What are group norms or shared agreements? (And why are they important?)

Every group naturally develops normative behaviors, expectations, and unwritten ways of operating. When not monitored, the resulting culture and climate can create an unproductive and uncomfortable environment for marginalized individuals. To intentionally engineer inclusion™, you can set or establish norms that scaffold equitable and inclusive practices so that everyone feels valued and affirmed.

We recommend starting meetings or events with ground rules, group norms, shared agreements, guidelines, or as we call it a session pledge, to help facilitate a more equitable and inclusive environment.

We’ve created a simple four-S alliteration to help you get started. Save the image, download the pdf, access our sample slides, or use our pledge as a starting place to create your own.

How to use the EI Session Pledge

Review the pledge and reflect on what the items and prompts mean to you.

Prepare to share the pledge with your group. PDF download below, an image above, or start with our google slides.

Introduce the pledge to your group at the beginning of your session, meeting, or event. Share that it is important to “intentionally engineer inclusion” and invite people to help you co-create a space that prioritizes equitable and inclusive practices.

Remind the group about the key elements as needed throughout the session, and encourage participants to use the shared language to invite others to be thoughtful of the environment. 

Engineer Inclusion's Session Pledge

Stay Engaged

  • For the benefit of ourselves and others, we will stay present and involved.
  • We will close apps and put away devices or distractors that detract from an optimal experience.
  • We will actively and empathetically listen and trust that others will do the same for us.
  • We resist overloading and rushing our agenda.

Share the Mic

  • Everyone’s voice matters, and we will work to create space for each person to contribute.
  • We will invite quiet voices to participate.
  • We depend on each of us to draw participants in from the margins, fostering community and nurturing a sense of belonging.

Support Others

  • We will help others navigate the content with patience, kindness, and respect.
  • We will ask for clarification when we don’t understand.
  • We reject stereotypes, prejudice, and bias and focus on un-filtered evidence.
  • We choose to “call in” instead of “call out” when reminders are needed, treating everyone with compassion and empathy.

Stretch and Reflect

  • We are all accountable for our words and actions.
  • We believe that we can learn and improve our practice through effort, so we accept the challenge to stretch ourselves.
  • We will take the time to acknowledge our individual and collective identities, and reflect on what we have done, learned, and celebrate successes.

Download PDF

Download an easy to print or share PDF.

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Meagan Pollock, PhD

Dr. Meagan Pollock envisions a world where personal and social circumstances are not obstacles to achieving potential, and where kindness, inclusivity, and conservation prevail.

An international speaker, teacher, engineer, and equity leader, her mission is to provide services, tools, and resources that inspire awareness and initiate action.

As an engineer turned educator, Meagan Pollock is focused on engineering equity into education and the workforce.

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About EI

We help people intentionally and systematically engineer equity and inclusion into their organizations: driving positive outcomes and effectively supporting employees and the community.

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