HRTech Interview with the Founder and CEO, Inclusivv – Jenn Graham


Jenn Graham from Inclusivv talks about the importance of conversation between employees and the company for a better employee experience.

1. Tell us about your role at Inclusivv.
As the founder and CEO of Inclusivv, I’m dedicated to creating a product that empowers communities to build empathy, raise awareness, and create collective action around critical issues. Since founding the company in 2016, I work to bring diverse voices together for conversations that matter. Simultaneously, I’m building a global team and digital platform that has enabled thousands of conversations worldwide, both in-person and virtually.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
As a former community organizer, I’ve been eager to learn how to move people to take action on the issues they care about. And after co-organizing TEDxAtlanta for five years and throwing conferences regularly with standard stages and spotlights, it finally dawned on me that the old model of communication in which one person presents and everyone else observes wasn’t working. To create real change, we needed a way for people to connect. To do that, we have to be smaller and more structured. The small, structured group conversation model works to help create a meaningful connection that provides the psychological safety to discuss issues that matter. Without the strong relationships and trust smaller groups create, progress cannot happen.
For the first five years of our company’s history, we were known as “Civic Dinners” and just recently rebranded to Inclusivv. Our business model started as a way to bring people together for conversations on complex subjects over a shared meal –– dinner. This quickly evolved into a scalable platform to facilitate meaningful connection and deeper understanding. Our mission has always been about more than shared meals, and through our platform, we created conversations our market craves from racial injustice to climate change.
Inclusivv provides companies, universities and communities with the technology, tools, and skills needed to facilitate small-group structured conversations at scale.
With a library of over 50 topics researched and designed for a variety of intentions—from building trust and empathy to generating solutions to systemic challenges—, Inclusivv helps leaders mitigate risk, save time and resources, capture valuable insights, and create a more inclusive culture.

3. How do you think technology is revamping the HR Sector?

Technology has changed how we relate to one another and the world, which has everything to do with HR. It’s not enough to host a town hall or send a message from the CEO. People want to feel heard. And leaders need to listen more intentionally.

But it feels like we’ve lost the art of conversation, especially among the younger generations.
Inclusivv gives people leaders a way to confidently engage employees in small-group structured conversations, both in-person and online, on challenging and important topics. The proprietary content and technology provides leaders with exactly what to do, how to facilitate, and how to create a positive experience for all.

4. How has digitization impacted employee engagement during the pandemic?
a. Employers will have to adopt new approaches and invest in technology that helps them listen, learn and improve the employee experience. With that in mind, platforms like Inclusivv are seen as a resource for HR departments by ensuring employees are happier, engaged and more productive. Because of the pandemic, the value of a structured conversation on essential topics grew as people craved connection. We created the same sense of community and camaraderie through digitization as being in-person for enterprise, midmarket and higher education institutions. Inclusivv is genuinely able to encourage productive discussion, drive positive change and create a more inclusive culture.

5. How do you think meaningful conversations can spark lasting change in an organization?
Meaningful conversations can spark lasting change by creating psychological safety and engaging employees, leading to employee retention and a more diverse, open-minded workforce. Too often, organizations jump straight to the action, whether that’s asking donors for money or asking citizens to sign a petition to go vote. This strategy can be short-sighted and feel solely transactional. At Inclusivv, we understand the value of developing relationships with stakeholders, employees, residents, alumni, and volunteers. That’s a big reason why we use the art of conversation to dive deeper into complex issues and inspire collective action.

6. In what ways can Inclusivv be used strategically to provide organizations with brave spaces for peer-to-peer learning?
Inclusivv conversations follow a simple structure, with six to 10 participants gathering to discuss a specific topic. The host of the conversation follows a clear and concise guide with three overarching questions, allowing individuals equal time to share their thoughts and opinions on said topic. This conversation format is purposely designed to avoid debate or dominant voices and encourages active listening and understanding of different viewpoints.

7. What is the role of structured conversations by Inclusivv to avoid debates or dominant voices?
Regardless of how we communicate, we’ve all experienced awkward conversations about difficult topics that didn’t go well. Leaders often want to create a brave space for conversations but don’t know where to start or what to say. At Inclusivv, we provide the tools you need to navigate challenging and essential topics with confidence, helping you establish real connection and understanding in a way that is not demeaning towards others. Through these structured conversations, you’ll receive questions, prompts and action plans so that you know how best to facilitate the conversation and build community, hope and drive action.

8. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?
We’re witnessing a shift in global consciousness. Customers, employees, vendors and even investors are asking more of companies regarding social and environmental justice. People want to be part of creating a better world. With Inclusivv, leaders can invite their communities into structured conversations that allow everyone to have a voice and a role to play in co-creating a better future.
Inclusivv became a public benefit company, meaning we have over a dozen conversation topics available for the public to host for free with friends, neighbors and family. We provide everything you need to feel confident hosting a conversation and often host signature events around timely topics such as Sustainability and Climate Change coming up this fall.

9. How does your team empower and support you?
We’ve grown significantly over the past year, from a core team of five to close to 30. I’m most proud of building a diverse and rockstar senior leadership team. Our CTO has been with us for five years and built the codebase from scratch. Our Head of Product and Design came from the unicorn of the South, SalesLoft. Our Head of Sales & Marketing is a long-time friend and has experience leading the exact growth stage we’re in for other SaaS startups. I feel grateful every day for these humans who have helped take my vision and build the dream team to make it happen.


Jenn Graham Founder and CEO, Inclusivv

Jenn Graham is on a mission to design a more inclusive world. An activist, designer, and civic tech entrepreneur, Jenn is the Founder and CEO of Inclusivv (formerly “Civic Dinners”), bringing diverse voices together for conversations that matter. Since starting Civic Dinners as a social experiment in Atlanta, Jenn has built a global team and a digital platform that has already enabled over 1,800 dinners around the world—both in-person and virtual—and has a goal of inviting a million people to the table by 2021. Her clients range from Facebook to Coca-Cola, including beloved organizations such as The King Center, Sierra Club, and The Aspen Institute. Jenn was featured as a “2020 World-Changing Woman in Conscious Business” by Conscious Media Company, and last year she was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a “Small Business Person of the Year – Rising Star.” Jenn’s work has also been recognized by President Obama and has received numerous awards for social impact and creative community engagement.


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