“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become wiser, more inclusive, and better as an organization.” — Pat Wadors
In today’s workplace, it is very important for leaders to realize where they lack and what needs to be improved, while catering employees’ needs inside an organization especially right now that employees are looking for an environment in which they will feel belong and safe. Earning deeper trust and commitment from employees is one of the essential things a leader should focus on, and this can be achieved through diversity and inclusion.
These two are more than policies, programs, training, and engagements. When you provide your employees a diverse and inclusive workplace, chances are they feel equally involved, supportive, and productive at the same time. It might look that diversity and inclusion are the same, but they are far from interchangeable. Diversity is a representation of an entity while inclusion is a state of being valued, respected, and supported.
Leaders can take their team beyond the status quo. Creating an inclusive environment where people feel connected to one another and want to contribute is what leaders do, every day. They are there to help, protect and lend guidance when needed. They should make you feel secure in your position. Making your employees feel valued and included in everything that happens at work could help you retain them. If a person feels like they have no connection or involvement in the company, they might leave right away. In fact, in a study conducted at Cornell University, researchers found that 70% of employees who felt their workplace was emotionally engaging remained with their companies for more than five years, while only 29% did not feel emotionally engaged stayed for more than five years.
If you are a leader for more than a decade, you play a crucial role in shaping workplace culture, and it is clear to you how important it is to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Showing everyone what it means to be part of the group through your actions and words is where you can showcase your value and gain trust.
To be an inclusive leader who knows well his or her own biases and actively seek out and consider different perspectives, one of the steps is to know what to avoid. First, avoid tokenism; tokenism happens when the organization promotes inclusivity but only recruits a small number of people from underrepresented groups, wrong representation can happen, and employees may feel awkward or taken advantage of. Next is to avoid assimilation, different employees come from different cultures, so it is only important to understand and consider people’s different experiences to engage or to collaborate with the whole team. You should also avoid dehumanization for it can lead to human rights violations.
Since inclusive leadership is becoming a unique capability that helps organizations in promoting diverse and inclusive environment for their employees, a previous research by Harvard Business Review revealed an Inclusive Leader’s Six (6) Signature Traits:
Visible commitment: leaders who have visible commitment express genuine commitment to diversity, challenge the status quo, hold others accountable, and make diversity and inclusion a highest and/or personal priority.
Humility: it means they are modest about capabilities, admit their mistakes, and create an encouraging space for others to contribute.
Awareness of bias: they are honest and aware of their blind spots and flaws in the system.
Curiosity about others: they have an open mindset and deep curiosity about others, don’t judge when listening, and seek with empathy to better understand people around them.
Cultural intelligence: leaders with cultural intelligence are attentive to others’ cultures and adapt as required.
Effective collaboration: they empower others, pay attention to diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on team cohesion.
In today's competitive business world, it's vital to build a culturally diverse and inclusive environment where all employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. The best leaders embrace diversity, which includes differences in age, race, religion, education, gender, and sexual orientation among others.
Diversity is essential in any pool of leaders, as it can better represent the people who follow them, and it also fosters a culture of innovation and creativity in your workplace. Remembering what to avoid and what skills you need when aiming to have these two, you can be a successful and inclusive leader. You motivate teams to work harder because they know that they are heard, and their opinions are valued.
Here at Customized Training Solutions, we help leaders sustain and develop their own leadership skills through coaching, training and consulting. Book a free 30 minute call now to find out how we can help you!
Bourke, J., & Titus, A. (2020, March 6). The Key to Inclusive Leadership. Diversity and Inclusion. https://hbr.org/2020/03/the-key-to-inclusive-leadership
Leading Effectively Staff. (2022, January 11). Inclusive Leadership: Steps Your Organization Should Take to Get It Right. Center for Creative Leadership. https://www.ccl.org/articles/leading-effectively-articles/when-inclusive-leadership- goes-wrong-and-how-to-get-it-right/
What Is Inclusive Leadership and Why Is It Important? (2021). https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-inclusive-leadership