Decolonizing Our Practices to Encourage Inclusion - The Circle Way

board development and revitalization intentional practices mission. vision. values roles and responsibilities Oct 23, 2022
Encourage Inclusion in Nonprofit Boards


Many boards and agencies are examining their practices to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion. Perhaps as part of that examination, or even extending beyond, is the need to explore some of the colonial practices we impose on ourselves and others.

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Our boardroom tends to be our primary decision-making arena for governance. as leadership. So how do we make decisions, and how do we record them?


To gather people to talk about something important, you don’t simply throw them together and hope that some meaningful outcome occurs. We know this.


Instead, the careful host selects the container that suits the conversation. What does that container look like? Is it a haven for diverse ideas and opinions and for people generally?


Some boards are working with circles. You might want to consider it.


When people gather in a circle and adopt the agreements and practices of The Circle Way, the conversation changes.


The conversation is influenced by the shape of the space where people are gathered. There are different shapes for delivering a message; the circle is one for putting purpose in the middle and listening to every participant’s contribution to the whole. While simply moving the chairs into a process begins to change how people communicate, The Circle Way offers a social structure that often helps conversation arrive at a deeper, more intentional place. These components of structure help ensure that each person is heard and that meaning and wisdom emerge.

The Circle Way is such a container. When you use the components of The Circle Way, the circle can help people hold complexity, work through conflict, discover new possibilities for collaboration, and honour diversity — and still have room for dessert and coffee.


The Components of The Circle Way:

  • Intention
  • Welcome Start-point
  • Centre and Check-in/Greeting
  • Agreements
  • Three Principles and Three Practices
  • Guardian of Process
  • Check-out and Farewell


The Circle Way process can be applied with subtlety and gentle structure in moments of ease, appreciation, and celebration. And it is strong enough to hold people through difficult times and conversations.


The Circle Way — Putting Equity and Justice in the Center

The Circle Way unequivocally affirms the essential practice of turning to one another to uphold racial, ethnic, gender, disability, economic, and environmental justice. We can imagine a different way.


You are welcome whether you are new to the circle or have been practicing for many years. You are welcome whether you want to find a way to talk with your family and friends or if you want to gather a large corporation's employees to re-imagine the organization's future.


The Circle Way can be used for the duration of a gathering, or it can be used as a means for “checking in” at the beginning and “checking out” at the end. It can be used to make difficult decisions or help a community through transitions.


If you want to understand the Circle Way more fully, look at the two-page Circle Guidelines, available in 14 languages, and The Circle Way Pocket Guide, available in 3 languages. Also, visit the Resources section of The Circle Way for videos that describe the components of The Circle Way.



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