Inspired Leadership

Unlock the Power of Diversity

Power of Diversity

Unlock the Power of Diversity: 5 Ways Leaders Can Foster Inclusion

There has long been a case for diversity in the workplace from a moral and ethical perspective. However the research on the business impact of a diverse workforce has only started coming in more recently. Diversity as a “tick in the box” has no business benefit. In fact, having people from more diverse cultures, backgrounds, personalities, genders and so on actually creates more stress, tension and conflict in the workplace unless leaders can look beyond the surface level diversity and access the unique thinking and perspectives that according to research, unlocks 19% higher innovation revenue & 21% higher profitability.

This missing link in the diversity conversation is Inclusive Leadership.

The role of a manager is to create a team culture where people feel included and like they belong, SO THAT you, as a manager, can unlock the best thinking of everyone in the team and as a result, the best performance. This is Inclusive Leadership.  Inclusive leaders are aware of our own biases and actively seek out and consider different perspectives to inform our decision-making and as a result create an environment where collaboration flourishes and diversity is valued.

5 ways leaders can foster inclusion in their teams:

1.Be an active listener and build psychological safety. Encourage open communication by actively listening to your team members, validating their feelings, and showing genuine interest in their ideas. This fosters psychological safety, where individuals feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their perspectives without fear of judgment or repercussions.

The Power of diversity

a.Recently we were working with a leadership team where the CEO is doing the opposite of this. In team meetings and workshops she speaks first, has very strong and clear opinions and her facial expressions and body language portray her disregard for other people’s input. She is very confident in her own opinion. As a result the rest of her leadership team are quiet. And we all know the danger of a quiet organization!!

2. Challenge your own biases. We all have unconscious biases that can unintentionally influence our decisions and interactions. Be introspective and acknowledge your own biases. Seek out resources and training opportunities to understand and mitigate these biases, creating a more objective and inclusive decision-making process.

a. Another organization we are consulting to has an exclusively male regional leadership team. This is a technology company BUT….. If you are working with people who “are probably going to agree with me”, you might have a confirmation bias. You might have inadvertently hired too many “just like me’s” in your team.

3. Celebrate and leverage diverse perspectives. Acknowledge and celebrate the unique strengths, experiences, and perspectives each team member brings to the table. Encourage healthy debate and knowledge sharing, allowing everyone to contribute their unique viewpoints to reach better-informed solutions.

a. One of the tools we strongly advocate for is the Inclusive Communication toolkit that we share in the Inclusion and Belonging module of Inspired Leadership. The following video explains one of these tools:

b. Or for another take on this from Nelson Mandela, expressed by Simon Sinek: Be the last to speak.

4. Promote collaboration and teamwork. Create opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds to work together on projects. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and team building activities to break down silos and build understanding between individuals with diverse backgrounds and working styles.

a. Although our work-from-home and geographically dispersed organisations make this challenging, leadership need to think creatively. Left to our own devices “sort soek sort” (which is an Afrikaans saying that means people who are similar tend to gravitate towards each other). Just like in nature you won’t find a herd of elephant hanging out with zebra’s. If they are together it is purely co-incidental. If you examine your natural social setting, you may find there is a lot of similarity. And what you have in common is what draws you together. So for us to challenge ourselves, and our thinking and to bring in new perspectives, we have to force ourselves into discomfort. Walk across the room. Or through team allocation (to paint a wall at an underprivileged nursery school,) force the walk!

5. Provide equal access to opportunities and resources. Ensure everyone has equal access to professional development opportunities, training programs, and career advancement possibilities, regardless of their background or identity.

a. This is one element that we are most proud of in our Inspired Leadership methodology. We make it possible for even the quiet ones to participate. Too often “you are selected for” emails go out to the outspoken, charismatic, confident people. And the quiet programmer who grew up in a very different world, where speaking up gets you negative attention, is ignored or forgotten about.

By implementing these practical steps, leaders can cultivate a truly inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued, collaboration thrives, and the full potential of each individual is unlocked, leading to a more innovative, profitable, and successful organization.

Remember, inclusion is an ongoing journey, not a destination. By actively demonstrating these behaviors and continually striving to create a more inclusive workplace, leaders can create a positive impact on their teams, their organization, and ultimately, society as a whole.

Do you need to equip your organisation to lead themselves and others well? Download our brochure to find out how we can help.

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