“How many minutes of one-on-one dialogue did you have with junior employees yesterday? Emailing, texting, and group meetings don’t count — I’m talking about individual, face-to-face conversations. Maybe you exchanged “good mornings” or engaged in a bit of small talk, but what about meaningful engagement?

For most us of us, our time spent talking with co-workers one-on-one is dwindling and our communication is stifled at best. Still, we push tactics aimed at fostering “better” communication: Slack channels, status calls, all-hands meetings, etc., yet we ignore our desire to have more facetime, and not the iPhone kind.

This communication gap is a window into another gap: the gender gap in tech. From my roles in Silicon Valley to my current position leading The Garage at Northwestern, it’s become clear that cultivating an inclusive tech workforce is less about broad-sweeping policies and more about something simpler, yet far more challenging: one-on-one engagement.

So, how do we turn that insight into a strategy? It starts by going back to the basics of human conversation.
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