Aspiration’s Evelyn Arellano has a super timely piece for Covid-19 people working from home, it’s called “Power Dynamics and Inclusion in Virtual Meetings.” There’s also a PDF which may be a bit easier reading.

Raise your hand if you have ever been in a virtual meeting where: One or two people do all the talking; You don’t feel safe or empowered to share your thoughts, ideas, or questions; You don’t feel the value of what you or others have to contribute is acknowledged by everyone in the meeting, especially the hosts…Sound familiar?

Each section below is educational while providing helpful suggestions:

  • What are some ways that people have power and privilege in virtual meetings?
  • What are some ways that people assert power and privilege in virtual meetings?
  • Our vision for richly empowering, effective online meetings
  • Managing power dynamics before the meeting and in real time

For example, one way people exert power is, “Using vocabulary not everyone understands, including jargon and acronyms, to both assert knowledge superiority as well as to marginalize those not able to speak in those terms.”

One suggestion for dealing with people that may undermine inclusiveness is, “Proactively negotiate – If you anticipate specific individuals will be less willing to yield their power or participate co-equally, and the meeting is important enough to justify the effort, think about trying to engage them in advance and pre-flight your plan for the meeting and the importance of all voices being heard. This may not guarantee that they honor the meeting environment you are trying to establish, but it gives you a concrete touch point to reference if and when they over-contribute or otherwise assert their power or privilege.”

This document is such a timely guide as online meetings become routine everyday for people around the world.

About Aspiration

Aspiration’s mission is to connect nonprofit organizations, foundations and activists with software solutions and technology skills that help them better carry out their missions. We want those working for social justice to be able to find and use the best software available, so that they maximize their effectiveness and impact and, in turn, change the world.

Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Check out Portland Wild, a visual map-driven guide to Portland's public art, its Heritage Trees and its Little Free Libraries.

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