Diversity of hands raised

At MASFEC and FCSN, we believe it’s important to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, especially when some voices are often ignored because of who they are. This can happen due to gender, race, disability, and other parts of our identity. Usually, white cis men are the default voices, meaning their perspectives are heard the most. This isn’t fair and can exclude many important viewpoints.

To help change this, we use a method called the Progressive Stack during many of our meetings. This is a way to give more speaking time to people from groups that are usually not heard as much. Here’s how it works:

  1. Step Forward, Step Back: People from non-dominant groups (like women, people of color, youth, disabled folks, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, etc.) are invited to speak first. This helps ensure their voices are heard.
  2. Fair Speaking Time: By allowing these voices to speak first, we can balance the discussion and make sure everyone’s perspectives are included.

How to Introduce Progressive Stacking in Meetings: Example Language to Use

When we start a meeting, we explain Progressive Stacking to the group. This approach might be new for many and may require some practice. That’s okay! We can learn together!

Here’s some example language:

“Thank you all for joining today. To ensure that everyone’s voice is heard, we’re going to use Progressive Stacking. This means we’ll hear from different groups in a particular order.”

“For today’s discussion,  we’ll start by hearing from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals. White participants will get a chance to speak next. Let’s hear from any BIPOC community members now. Please share your thoughts and experiences on…. Thank you. Now, white community members are invited to share their perspectives…”

Sometimes, the focus might be different. For example, if we’re discussing school policies, we might prioritize family or youth voices before hearing from school district representatives. Here’s how that might look:

“We’ll start with our students, as your voices are crucial in this discussion. Please, share your thoughts…. Students can continue to contribute ideas. Let’s add our family voices to the discussion now. Would any family members like to speak on this topic now? … Now, we’d like to hear from the school district representatives. Your responses and insights are important too.”

In other cases, we might focus on age, sexuality, gender, or even geographical location to guide our discussion. The key is to adapt the order based on the topic to ensure that we’re creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels heard.stack of papers with colorful paperclips

In some spaces, a less formal approach might work:

“Welcome, everyone! Today, we’re going to use a technique called Progressive Stacking to make sure our discussion is fair and inclusive. This means we’ll invite people from non-dominant groups to speak first. If you’re a woman, a person of color, youth, or part of any group that’s often not heard as much, please feel free to step forward and share your thoughts. If you’re from a group that usually gets more chances to speak, like white non-disabled males, we ask you to step back and give others the space to share first. This way, we can hear from everyone and have a richer, more inclusive discussion. Thank you!”

By using Progressive Stacking, we aim to create a space where everyone feels valued and heard. Together, we can work towards making our conversations more equitable and inclusive for all.