HEATHER HANSEN is a true trailblazer in global communication and an unwavering advocate for amplifying diverse voices. Heather’s resounding stand against language-related biases in international teams has garnered her a prominent position as a sought-after consultant for some of the world’s largest companies. With her thought-provoking 2018 TEDx talk, “2 Billion Voices: How to Speak Bad English Perfectly,” Heather unravels the unspoken influences of language, accent, and eloquence on our perceptions. Today, we dive into her vision of creating “Unmuted” workplaces where inclusivity, innovation, and open communication thrive in an ever-evolving landscape of remote work and dispersed teams. A workplace that focuses on amplifying diverse voices in remote teams


Amplifying Diverse Voices in Remote Teams

Fostering Engagement and Inclusivity in Remote Meetings

Creating an ‘Unmuted’ Environment

Heather Hansen brings to light the concept of ‘Unmuted‘ workplaces where every team member feels confident to speak up. She suggests that facilitators can enhance engagement by “acknowledging a person’s brilliance; then inviting them to participate.” Attendees can take the initiative to contribute early in meetings (for some, to get over the initial nerves of speaking up). To support this, Heather emphasizes the importance of embracing active listening and being mindful of accent biases that may inadvertently silence valuable contributions.

Navigating Time Zones 
Effective remote collaboration also requires mastering the challenges of time zone differences. Heather recommends strategic planning, meticulous calendar management, and a robust self-care regimen to ensure sustainable scheduling.

The Sounds of Silence
Normalize silence in virtual meetings, allowing thoughtful turn-taking, and giving participants the space to contribute without pressure.

Leadership and Diversity in Language

Addressing Language in Workplace Diversity
Language and accent are integral to diversity, and leaders are responsible for initiating conversations around this topic. Heather proposes that companies confront language and accent bias by providing training and actively identifying and preventing bias during hiring and promotions. Heather offers Leadership Coaching in this area.

Employee Empowerment
If you are the person with an accent, it can help to speak up more often to help colleagues become accustomed to accents and speech styles, contributing to a more inclusive environment.

Technology’s Role
Heather cautions about the potential biases in AI speech recognition, underscoring the need for awareness and careful consideration as this technology evolves.


The fabulous Miro, a visual online workspace, has sponsored this podcast episode. Visit miro.com/superpowers to get your three free whiteboards today.

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Additional resources

332 – Personal User Manuals in Remote Work

325 – Empathetic Leadership in Remote Work

320 – Great Collaboration Is Relationship Science

305 – Building Trust: A Blueprint For Leaders

296 – unFIX Your Organisation For The 21st Century

291 – Digital Dialogue for Results & Relationships

240 – Shared Leadership In Virtual Teams


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