Inclusive Teams

For an organization to thrive in times of complexity, constant transformative change and unforeseeable crisis, it needs to build resilience. The work of building a culture of inclusion requires the same essential skills as the work of building resilience: adaptability, trust, open communication, desire and ability to learn, and acceptance of change. 

An inclusive environment is one that embraces, promotes and benefits from the differences that unique individuals bring into it, and therefore enables innovation, higher performance and overall employee well-being. Therefore, inclusion is not “nice to have” but essential for our capacity to face humanity’s major challenges.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us experienced the most rapidly changing work culture of our lifetime. Juggling home office with child-care created additional struggles for parents, especially women*. At the same time, this disruption accelerated the adoption of new ways of working.

Many teams across sectors met this challenge creatively, fundamentally changing their working practices for the better. We aim to bring awareness to these practices for the benefit of Swiss organizations and the broader public.

Inclusive Team Practices

An inclusive team practice is anything you do to positively impact your team's collaboration and dynamics. For example, it can be something that

  • makes it easier for every team member to be heard, seen or represented
  • offers team members a more balanced professional and private life
  • helps team members and leads to make unbiased decisions
  • helps the team benefit from the individual strengths of all its members
  • makes it easier for underrepresented groups to be valued
  • increases the safety for everyone to be themselves within the team
  • improves accessibility within the team for people with disabilities
  • protects team members from harassment
  • helps team members increase awareness of their biases.

This list is a non-exhaustive list of examples to give you food for thought. It should be understood as a starting point upon which to build, and be revisited regularly.

Who's involved
"Anne Stammwitz"
Inclusion & Diversity Consultant

Anne has a background in social entrepreneurship and History, and is specialised in areas of sexism and racism. Sometimes, she gets lost in her thoughts but that’s to be expected when it comes to tackling the big challenges of our times. She is passionate about intersectionality and loves spending time in the mountains with the resting giants.

"Johanna Seeliger"
Inclusion & Diversity Consultant

Johanna loves to be able to work from anywhere and believes in the powers of global teams. As a progressive entrepreneur, she aims at finding ways to balance business rationale with impact, relationships and well-being. Fun fact, as a kid and teenager Johanna was very conservative when it came to food she didn’t know.

"Anna Krebs"
Project Lead

Anna is a project lead and facilitator. She firmly believes that human-centredness and inclusion are the core qualities today’s workplaces need in order for people to thrive and do meaningful work. She loves co-creating and designing programs that enable learning and connection. Her motto: Let’s create ripples of positive change!


We are convinced that there is already at least one inclusive team practice present in every organization. Imagine the collective knowledge and inspiration there could be for all of us if we manage to bring those treasures to the surface. We believe that a joint effort across organizations and sectors will enable teams in Switzerland to create inclusive cultures, step-by-step, without the need for executive approval or additional budgets.


This project is a collaboration between the Swiss association collaboratio helvetica, which is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Gender Equality, and Diversify GmbH. It was initiated as part of the Nova Helvetia Programme: "An explorative journey to a healthy post COVID-19 Switzerland" during the first lockdown phase in 2020. Funded by Engagement Migros, the prototype will contain three concrete practices from different sectors and types of organizations. To be able to continue the project after the prototyping phase, running from October 2020 to March 2021, we need additional funds from organizations, individuals and foundations. Please get in touch with us if you would like to contribute.

The project team consists of Anna Krebs, Johanna Seeliger and Anne Stammwitz.

empowered by collaboratio helvetica as part of the Nova Helvetia journey.

Inclusive Working Practices

On Inclusive Communication
Thumbnail Valentina Velandia
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Valentina's pictureCapacity's logo

Valentina Velandia, Co-Founder of Capacity Zürich, a Talent & Startup incubator for persons with a refugee or migrant background who want to launch a business or a social initiative.

“Language and pictures shape the way we see our world and also reflect our values. How we talk to people, who we portray in our pictures and take as examples, affects our surroundings and makes the people we address feel more or less taken seriously and included in our world view.”

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Valentina shares with us a practice that promotes inclusion through the use of language. Capacity Zürich has developed guidelines that define the principles of all team interactions when it comes to inclusive verbal and visual communication.
Valentina encourages all teams and organizations to develop their own guidelines for inclusive language use based on their values, mission and context.

  • Flip the usual script
    Use examples that counter the prevailing stereotypes and status quo. For example, refer to company directors with the “she” pronoun or talk about preschool teachers using the “he” pronoun.
  • Give agency
    Instead of saying “refugees”, “migrants” say “persons with refugee or migrant background”. This gives agency to the individual and avoids emphasizing too much on only one segment of a person's identity.
  • Use non-stereotypical visuals 
    Communication also happens in pictures. In posters, online visuals, marketing and presentations; use your creativity and get out of your comfort zone: avoid perpetuating stereotypes and include visuals with people and groups who are not usually represented. 
  • Practice gender neutral language
    Use gender neutral language whenever possible. See the resources section for more.
  • Listen and ask questions
    Turn assumptions into curiosity with open-ended questions. 
Links to additional resources

Do you have further resources which could benefit others? Share them with us! 

On Collective Accountability in Recruitment
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Valentina's pictureCapacity's logo

Rashid Javed, CEO of Plan International Switzerland, a development and humanitarian NGO that advances children's rights and equality for girls.

“Diversity and inclusion has to be a continuous process which is  ingrained into organizational culture. This practice of inclusive recruitment process is just one example. The continuous promotion and building of a strong inclusive culture in the organization doesn’t happen overnight but is often a long journey of internal organizational and individual reflection.”

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Rashid shares with us a practice called “Collective Accountability” and its implementation in a recruitment process. This is about promoting collaborative goal setting & creating institutional spaces for team members to participate in decision-making and the strategic direction of the organization. It is important that  everyone’s voice is heard when making organizational decisions that impact staff members and their roles, such as who to hire.

  • Do a mapping of interlinks
    Map which staff members will be directly or indirectly collaborating with and impacted by the position you are about to hire. Remember to look beyond the direct team and consider interdependencies with other departments.
  • Involve staff actively
    Ensure those impacted can participate in the recruitment process and have their voices heard and inputs recognized. You could involve staff members in formulating the job description, taking part in the recruitment panel or by giving the opportunity to have a chat with the candidate.
  • Be transparent about why and why not 
    Ensure there is a transparent and agile process that considers and responds to conflicting views and opinions on candidates. When making a final decision, be transparent about how, why or why not the given insights were considered.
Links to additional resources

Do you have further resources which could benefit others? Share them with us! 

Leveling the playing field between
on-site and remote co-workers
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Valentina's pictureCapacity's logo

Simon Moser, COO of Skribble, a global solution for digital signing.

“Teams that reflect the diversity of their users are better suited to solve their problems. Not just because they share similarities but because they’ve learnt to integrate different viewpoints. To train this muscle constantly is what allows you to also empathize with your users.”

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Simon shares with us a practice that promotes inclusion by giving people the same meeting experience no matter where they are currently based.
In hybrid meetings, people often use one camera that films the whole meeting room and one screen that shows all the remote participants. In this setting, the remote participants cannot participate equally in the meeting, because they are missing the non-verbal communication and side-discussions that happen in the meeting room.

  • Everyone joins a hybrid meeting though their own laptop camera
    An easy fix for this situation is that all participants use their own laptop camera to join the meeting, even the people sitting together physically.
  • Use a table microphone
    If several people are together in one room, they have to make sure to turn off their microphones and speakers to avoid acoustic feedback. To ensure a high quality audio experience, we recommend using a table microphone.
  • More inclusive and efficient meetings
    With this practice, not only do meetings not become more inclusive (everyone occupies the same amount of space on the screen) but also more disciplined and therefore efficient.
Links to additional resources

Do you have further resources which could benefit others? Share them with us! 

Stay in touch and learn more
about our approach to Inclusion & Diversity
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