5 Tips for Making Your Review Panel More Inclusive

05/09/2019

Research shows that a more inclusive workplace offers a wide range of benefits to everyone. Working in a diverse setting helps people learn from each other, become better communicators, become more socially aware, and develop higher levels of creativity. A diverse panel of reviewers will improve your organization because having a variety of perspectives and insights helps to enhance project outcomes.  

1. Take an Inventory of Your Workplace Culture

Before reaching out to a diverse group of potential reviewers, it’s important to first assess the ways diverse viewpoints are valued in your office. Often, measuring this can be done by looking at the kinds of micro-decisions that are made on a daily basis. For example, whose opinions are being sought out? Who is invited to different meetings? Who is included in the organization’s target audience? Do your applications or forms use gendered language? Answering these kinds of questions can help you make needed adjustments internally. This, in turn, will help new people feel comfortable, respected, and valued. Bringing in outside reviewers will be easier if you’ve done the work in your office first. Additionally, implementing these assessments on a regular basis will help you maintain a strong workplace culture committed to inclusivity.

2. Be Clear About Why You Want Diverse Outside Reviewers

It’s important to carefully consider the reasons you are interested in diversifying your review panel. What will diversity contribute to your review process? More voices and perspectives in the decision-making process will likely push at the boundaries of what the company has done before. Ensuring that you are ready to embrace these changes will make for a smoother experience for everyone. And although it should go without saying, it is important to be sure that you are adding diversity to your review panel not for the optics, but because you value diverse viewpoints.

3. Do Your Homework

Posting a call for reviewers across your social media platforms may bring in some diversity, but you’ll have better luck if you reach out to the reviewers you want on the platforms where they spend the most time. If someone on staff has connections to a particular group or community, this can be the easiest way to put a call out. But you can also reach out to other organizations that serve particular communities, and ask them to help you solicit reviewers. Consider creating a press release about openings on your review board opportunity and share it with organizations working in diverse communities.

4. Communicate What You Are Offering Clearly

Depending on your company’s size and budget you may or may not be able to pay your reviewers. Either way, be honest about what you can offer when you are soliciting assistance. This will help establish trust in your organization, and will save time potential reviewers and your team. If possible, do offer some kind of compensation. Even modest payment is a way to show your reviewers that you value the work they are doing for your company. Alternately, get creative about other ways you can provide compensation. And be sure you’ve ironed out all the logistics ahead of time.

5. Broaden Authentically

Nothing is more off-putting to a team member than realizing she is the only woman on the team. Or the only Black person in the room. Diversity for diversity’s sake will leave reviewers feeling tokenized. Ensuring that your review team is truly, broadly diverse will help you make decisions authentically and will help you build diversity into your company’s ethos.  

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Creating an inclusive review panel takes time and requires reflection, assessment, and a deliberate examination of your organization’s values and goals. This work is vital to any organization and will not only help you to create a diverse review panel, but will also strengthen your organization as a whole. Workplace diversity enhances communication, creativity, and greater awareness–a win-win for everyone!

Organizations opting for digital review of applications and other submissions have an advantage that in-house staff reviewers don’t have. By shifting to an online review process, you are not limited to your staff or those within your immediate, physical community. For companies making an effort to be more inclusive in the audiences they are reaching, the content they are providing, and the feedback they are receiving, digital review makes it possible to seek out reviewers from other communities, geographical locations, abilities, ethnic backgrounds, and gender identities.

Interested in using Submittable for your digital review panel? Please reach out anytime.

Emily Withnall

Emily Withnall works as a freelance writer and editor. Emily also teaches poetry in public schools in and outside of Missoula and in the Missoula County Detention Center. Some of her work is available at emilywithnall.com.