Diversity and inclusion have risen fast to the top of the priority list. Many businesses are aware that the workplace experience for minorities differs from that of the majority, which is often white men. Employees from different walks of life may not always feel respected and encouraged, and as a result, they may not believe they have an equal chance to thrive. The issue is that leaders may not know what to do with this information. However, one thing is certain: these concerns should not be dismissed.
Employees who work in an inclusive workplace feel wanted, heard, and engaged; they are eager to join your company and reluctant to leave. According to studies, diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time. Inclusion is a win-win situation for your employees, your organization, and your financial line.
So leaders can play a part in this. But how would you be an inclusive leader? Well, it entails reducing one’s unconscious bias when dealing with employees and making business decisions. It could also refer to a senior stakeholder who uses their position of leadership to ensure that teams in their jurisdiction are inclusive (a department, a business unit, a regional office, or the entire company). Interested? Try these out.
- Be aware of biases.
Personal and organizational biases limit the field of vision of inclusive leaders, preventing them from making objective decisions. They put in a lot of effort to recognize their own prejudices and learn how to avoid them from influencing hiring decisions.
They also want to put policies, processes, and structures in place to avoid biases in the workplace from suffocating diversity and inclusion. Without such safeguards in place, inclusive leaders recognize that their natural inclination may lead to self-cloning, and that operating in today’s business environment necessitates a different approach.
2. Demonstrate empathy and humility.
Empathy is the ability to comprehend others’ needs and to be aware of how their thoughts, feelings, and experiences influence their perceptions and behaviors. Empathetic leaders spend more time listening and communicating, which fosters open communication, coaching, and constructive criticism.
Humble leaders acknowledge to making mistakes, value others’ input and contributions, share credit for accomplishments, and are eager to learn and improve. Inclusive leaders also express thanks for their employees’ efforts and contributions, and they exhibit thankfulness in the workplace on a regular basis. They even go above and beyond to motivate, support, and promote their employees, emphasizing the importance of hard effort.
3. Cultural awareness is a valuable asset.
Cultural intelligence refers to a leader’s ability to modify his or her style in reaction to changing cultural standards. They adjust their speaking pace and tone as needed, as well as their nonverbal behaviors, gestures, facial expressions, body language, and physical encounters.
These leaders show self-awareness of their own culture, realizing how it impacts their perspective and how cultural stereotypes might influence their expectations of others, in addition to comprehending other cultures.
4. Be open.
Inclusive leaders value other people’s ideas and viewpoints and see mistakes as opportunities to learn. They are continuously looking for new and better ways to solve problems, but they are aware that they may not always be the smartest or brightest person in the room. With this in mind, they purposefully create diverse teams that break down homogeneity and groupthink.
They lead with a collaborative approach rather than a competitive one, acknowledging that each contributor brings their own set of talents and perspectives to the table and is an equally valuable part of the team. The desire to delegate and empower others with autonomy is another aspect of openness and collaboration.
4. Stay curious.
Curiosity drives executives to seek out new ideas, new views, and new methods of doing business on a regular basis. It’s constantly asking “why,” “what if,” and “how” inquiries, as well as pondering why things are the way they are. These tactics are what allow firms to stay competitive, navigate change successfully, explore new and unknown areas, and break through mindsets of “the way things have always been done.”
5. Encourage collaboration.
When a leader takes judgments from the vantage point of a mountain, he or she is bound to miss something. Less-heard views will be highlighted if the team works more collectively. With more people in the room, there are many more opportunities to overcome bias.
This is especially true when the team has a variety of viewpoints. Leaders should pay attention to these voices, regardless of their position. Take into account their experiences and cherish their viewpoints just like you would any other. When engaging with your team about diversity efforts, you should pay special attention to these voices.
6. Always show respect and fairness.
Recognizing and identifying bias and discrimination is the first step in overcoming it. Leaders must be highly aware of any internal, unconscious bias they may possess, and recognize that everyone carries some level of bias. Denial is merely another technique of ignoring the problem and thereby worsening it.
However, if a leader acknowledges to having these flaws, they can take actions to address them. Following that, a leader should analyze how their prejudices affect their judgments and behaviors in the workplace on a regular basis. Take these measures to make sure you’re acting properly and politely on a daily basis. Make sure you’re paying attention to and appreciating all contributions equally. Speak up against all forms of discrimination, from open discrimination to microaggressions.
7. Be committed.
It takes time and energy to cultivate a diverse, inclusive staff, two of a leader’s most valuable resources. So, what drives some business leaders to advocate this cause? In addition to believing in the business case, inclusive leaders are motivated by their values, which include a profound sense of fairness rooted in personal experience for some.
Inclusive leaders think that developing a welcoming culture starts with them, and they take personal responsibility for change very seriously. When leaders invest time, energy, and resources in cultivating inclusive workplaces by investing in people and motivating others to share their passions and aspirations, they are demonstrating a genuine commitment.
Check out my related post: How to recruit for diversity?