Why and how you should practice inclusive leadership in 2021
George Floyd’s murder sparked a monumental global protest and is just one of the many powerful developments last year, that should be used as an opportunity to progress inclusivity – particularly in the workplace. The failure to make inclusive leadership a priority will only lead to wasted opportunities that could potentially damage the long-term health of a business.
Many organisations have responded to last year’s racial reckoning by pledging to renew their DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) efforts. With much to be done — and with a lot of attention now focused on the very health of democracy after the Capitol riot — it would be easy for the energy and goodwill surrounding diverse workplaces to dissipate. It would also be easy for company leaders to revert to business-as-usual, avoiding the uncomfortable conversations and structural reforms needed.
Business leaders and organisations have been tasked to re-evaluate strategies in a way that will cement diversity and inclusion into corporate culture.
According to LinkedIn, there is a growing consensus that this position — whether it’s called head of diversity and inclusion, a chief diversity officer, or the diversity director — will be critical to an organisation’s ability to innovate, compete for the best talent, and grow.
LinkedIn’s data suggests that the number of people globally with the head of diversity title more than doubled –– a 107% growth –– over the last five years. The number of individuals with the director of diversity title grew 75% and chief diversity officer was up 68%. Companies are increasingly looking to hire capable executives to lead the charge on diversity and inclusion to create a more equitable workplace.
Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been a public champion of the cause of racial equality, prompting calls over the past year for Amazon to do more to address issues of racial injustice inside the company, including a proposal to add a new Amazon leadership principle related to inclusion.
To follow in the footsteps of these leaders like Bezos, those in authority must be able and willing to listen to advice and put it into practice. Diversity and inclusion is about changing behaviours and mindsets, putting a stop to favouritism, and updating organisational systems in the process.
Here are three simple steps to get you started on practicing inclusive leadership:
Business leaders need to create an environment where employees know their doors are always open. Nobody has all the answers, but listening with an empathetic ear will keep employees more productive and engaged and their worries are lessened.
Understand generational definitions
Baby boomers and Generation X tend to define diversity along the traditional lines of gender, race, and ethnicity. However, millennials and Generation Z tend to define diversity in more multi-layered ways. This mindset stems from the fact that the newer generation has been surrounded by diverse, global perspectives through exposure to social media and other technologies.
The emerging generations also view inclusive leadership as a crucial element when looking for work. Deloitte confirms this in a study, finding that 53% of Millennials would leave their current organisation for a more inclusive one, and 30% have already done so.
Whether you’re a leader, manager, or worker with the goal of becoming a manager, it is important to know how to navigate a diverse workforce by acquiring the knowledge to be an inclusive person yourself.
Managing a Diverse Team by co-author of The Female CEO, Vanessa Womack, is a great primer for managers with diverse teams. Through this course, participants learn the fundamentals of implementing an open-door policy that encourages communication, how to work with multigenerational teams, how to identify negative behaviors that could derail your team, and how to use coaching tools to work with your direct reports.
HEC Paris’ The Inspirational Leadership: Leading with Sense specialisation course uses the Savoir-Relier method to teach courage, empathy, humility, and resilience. Designed based on the Savoir-Relier protocol, its teachings have been implemented in organisations such as Apple, L’Oréal, LVMH, and Sanofi.
Foundations of diversity and inclusion is offered by the University of Virginia and explains how power and privilege play out in organisations. It also covers how companies can turn Black Lives Matter calls for action into new policies, how to have difficult conversations around race and power at work, and how to begin to root out bias in hiring practices.