“When everyone is included, everyone wins.”
“Inclusion is not about political correctness. This is the key to growth. »
Reverend Jesse Jackson, a longtime American civil rights activist, is often quoted on the subject of inclusion, and his two particular axioms are becoming more relevant to business leaders every day.
In a world where diversity – among consumers, markets and workforce talent – is growing, the ability to create an inclusive work culture has become an increasingly essential skill for business leaders. grass and established.
The word “inclusion” is often associated with “diversity”. For example, companies may have diversity and inclusion (D&I) training and policies or D&I managers on their teams. These terms represent two sides of the same coin. Diversity is about representation, that is, having people of different gender, race and background at all levels of an organization. “Diversity” is a state of being.
Inclusion, on the other hand, requires action and intention. It’s the deliberate creation of a culture in which a wide range of talent benefits everyone involved. It also requires a commitment to removing barriers to achieving such a culture.
Not only is building an inclusive culture the right thing to do ethically, it’s also a good business decision. Income levels are on the rise around the world and the middle class is growing in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Consumer demand and traditional product mindsets are changing accordingly. Meanwhile, consumers, especially those under 30, are showing a preference for socially responsible brands.
Progressive organizations recognize the need to innovate to meet the demands of an ever more diverse and socially responsible consumer base. Building teams that leverage different perspectives and abilities will provide a competitive advantage.
What does this benefit look like? Inclusiveness is associated with highly effective teams and 17% to 29% increases in key metrics such as performance, decision-making and collaboration. Some studies have linked it to higher overall income Also. Clearly, businesses that leverage diversity and create an inclusive culture have a lot to gain and little to lose. And what leaders say and do on a daily basis influence creating such cultures.
Inclusive environments engage employees on a deeper level. Inspired by a common mission, they strive to always give the best of themselves. This contributes to an inverted domino effect that benefits their careers, peers and clients. As Reverend Jackson said, it’s a win for everyone.
If you want to hone your own inclusive leadership skills, the following steps can help.
1. Cultivate your humility
Humility promotes positive change in your team’s interpersonal relationships. Humble leaders are approachable and empathetic. They question their assumptions about others and put themselves in the shoes of their team members. They have confidence in their team’s abilities and create space for them to learn and grow. Humility is contagious and helps dismantle the artificial distance that often develops between leaders and their staff.
Leading with humility means being open to feedback on inclusive practices and ready to start conversations with team members. Do they feel valued? Do they have the opportunity to live up to their potential? A humble leader will not shy away from such discussions.
2. Commit publicly
Openly express your dedication to inclusive leadership. This sends an encouraging message to your team and your customers. Ask your team how you can be more inclusive and a better advocate. Your staff and associates will appreciate you making the issue a real priority and not just an afterthought.
3. Root out the bias
Conquering our own biases is not a one-time activity: it is a habit that requires regular practice. Always remember that some factors are advantages for some people and burdens for others. Privilege and disadvantage may be totally unearned. Challenge your own worldview and ask others for their perspective. These are great ways to uncover your biases, and you can’t fix them if you don’t expose them first.
4. Be curious and enthusiastic about other cultures
Inclusive leaders want to learn about different people and cultures. You need to have more than an open mind, you need to look for opportunities to work with and understand people who are different from you, whether in terms of gender, culture, race or outlook. Train yourself to focus on the connections between people rather than the divisions.
5. Be culturally smart
Knowledge of other cultures is crucial for inclusive leadership. Be prepared to educate yourself to better understand the perspectives of your team members. Be open to differences in others’ backgrounds and adaptable when you need to.
6. Encourage people to speak up
Lip service is not enough. Telling people they are listened to and appreciated is just the beginning. An inclusive leader listens to everyone’s concerns and creates a space where they are comfortable talking when they feel something is wrong. Team members need to know that their concerns are valid, that they aren’t “overly sensitive,” and that they shouldn’t just “move on.”
An inclusive work environment means being prepared to endure uncomfortable times. Sometimes it’s easier to let an uninformed or offensive comment slide than to confront it. Maybe it was a misunderstanding or wasn’t meant to be hurtful. But leaders have a responsibility to address bias-driven incidents and encourage others to do the same. Let your team members know that any time they speak tactfully about unacceptable behavior, they are doing your organization a service.
7. Increase your self-awareness
Getting to know each other is the effort of a lifetime. You should never stop trying. Be aware of your thought processes, ideals and beliefs. Strive to discover and understand your own biases so you can correct them. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “An individual does not begin to live until he can rise above the narrow limits of his individualistic concerns to reach the larger concerns. wide of all mankind.”
Certainly, to fully realize this aspiration, you would need to be a highly evolved human being, but the desire to constantly move towards this goal is what counts.
A helpful tool to begin your self-examination journey is the Implicit association test. It can help you uncover unconscious biases that might be affecting the way you interact with your team and others in your life and work.
Embark on your inclusive leadership journey
That you to manage a team now or aspire to the future, incorporating these positive steps into your work will serve your career well. Although an inclusive culture must be developed from the top down, it radiates through all levels of an organization.
Mindful retention of these skills will increase your attractiveness to employers as well as your ability to develop meaningful relationships. And that will help make working with you a joy.
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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, and the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
Image credit: Getty Images/©malerapaso
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