How Managers Can Make Casual Networking Events More Inclusive

Some years ago, at a former company, I began noticing a curious series of events. My manager and team practiced an egalitarian decision-making process in which we would meet, discuss everything from content marketing campaigns to social media tactics, and collectively come up with strategies to move forward with. However, often, I would return to work later in the week to find the decisions that we had initially agreed upon were moot, and the manager was moving forward in a completely new direction. There was no explanation for what initiated these changes.

I eventually solved the puzzle; my male manager and certain members of our department were meeting with employees, including leaders, over unplanned, informal networking events at a local bar. There, they would talk shop and decisions were made that excluded others — about who to hire, promote, and assign to important projects. Though I was never invited, I later learned that it wasn’t gender-based. White women at all levels in our department were invited. But as the only woman of color and immigrant woman in my department, I wondered how I could score an invitation.

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