How to Host Inclusive Virtual Meetings and Events


By Anisha Asundi, Research Fellow: Gender Specialist, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School and co-chair, HarvardWIT+

Though we have moved to remote work, best practices to ensure we are running inclusive virtual events and meetings still apply.


Cartoon image of an online meeting with four people in four different panels

1. Secure your online events and meetings
Reports of zoom-bombing during events and meetings can be a form of hate speech and harassment as it ends up targeting marginalized genders and people of color at higher rates. Secure your Zoom events to avoid this.

2. Use closed captioning
Ensure full accessibility for people who are hard of hearing by providing closed captioning on your online events and meetings. Check out Harvard's 
accessibility resources.

3. Make sure everyone in your meeting has the opportunity to speak 
Recent findings have shown that 
women are still struggling to be heard in online meetings. If you are running a meeting, send the objectives and agenda ahead of time, and ask each of the participants a specific question to ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute.

4. Create and adhere to community agreements and meeting norms
HarvardWIT+ has created a list of 
community agreements that we ask our community to adhere to during our monthly events. We now use these community agreements at our online events as we want to ensure microaggressions or any other harmful behavior is addressed. Look into using the "RAVEN" approach when addressing microaggressions online:

  1. Redirect the interaction
  2. Ask probing questions
  3. Values Clarification
  4. Emphasize your own thoughts and feelings
  5. Next steps


5. Make your informal workplace "happy hours" more inclusive 
Informality in the workplace could increase with online meetings, due to easier access to chat boxes and private messaging that may exclude the larger group. If you plan on doing virtual happy hours, think about whether they are at a time where all can attend. Does noon or 5PM work for working parents? Are you including your employees who may not drink? Are you aware of religious occurrences that may be going on during your happy hours or events (e.g. Ramadan)?