How to be an Inclusive Leader

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It’s well known that an inclusive, equitable and diverse workforce innovates better and faster — and measurably outperforms homogeneous organizations.  What isn’t well know is that inclusive leadership is required to develop this kind of company.  If you believe you are an inclusive and culturally responsive leader, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you correct biased decision-making by becoming actively aware of your unconscious biases, and practice to overcome the implicit associations that drive your behavior?
    Board of Directors, executives and senior leaders all need to develop awareness of individual hidden bias — it is insufficient to only send employees to unconscious bias training — commitment must be actionable and include everyone.

  2. Do you consider racial, ethnic, age, gender, disability, personality and other differences in making work assignments, to promote the interplay of cultural and work style differences and encourage the development of diverse, inclusive, high-performing teams?
    There is no “color-blind,” you must be “color-brave,” “age-brave,” “gender-brave,” “ability-brave,” and so on. Diverse, inclusive teams do not spontaneously occur; deliberate design is required.

  3.  Do you champion diversity of thought by actively listening to employees (especially those whose opinions and ideas are divergent from your own), to understand, and make sure there is clear full communication?
    Can you describe two times in the past two weeks when you visibly demonstrated this behavior?
  4.  Do you recognize, publicly acknowledge, and actively work to communicate that “fit” is both a myth and an excuse used to maintain exclusivity and homogeneity?
    “Fit” is a moniker that means “like me” or “same as the rest of us.” You don’t get diversity by hiring for sameness. Hiring for difference requires leaning into discomfort, and acknowledging that this feeling reflects something about you, not “them.”
  5. Do you measure the cultural competence and inclusiveness of your organization and share that information transparently with your workforce?

If yes, congratulations!  If no, when will you begin?

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