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4 Tips to Become an Inclusive Leader

Do you want to become a more inclusive leader?

Woman and man working together

These 4 tips can help you nurture an inclusive culture.

Inclusive leaders know that diversity helps to connect people from various backgrounds. Teams benefit from being diverse by bringing perspectives from different angles. Inclusive leaders make sure that everyone feels included and seen.

Inclusion is one of the elements of creating trust, and collaborative working relationships. This is a must-have attribute of every professional. Leaders play an important role in nurturing an inclusive culture.

The CRF Research identified the following features of inclusive organisations:

  • Top leaders own inclusive culture strategy. They say the right things and follow up on actions.

  • Accountability for developing and saving an inclusive culture is shared among leaders at all levels and is not seen as only HR’s responsibility. This includes setting goals, measuring metrics, and making sure there is dialogue about progress.

Meanwhile, according to the Inclusion at Work 2022 Report by CIPD:

  • In 46% of organisations, Inclusion and diversity (I&D) considerations take a back seat to operational imperatives.

  • I&D targets are part of managers' performance objectives in only 30% of organisations.

There is still a lot to do. By valuing various perspectives, inclusive leaders can promote teamwork, innovation, and employee engagement. They have the power to create a culture of acceptance, where everyone feels valued, respected, and included.

While there's always room for improvement, moving towards an inclusive leadership is a necessary step to building a stronger organization.

We hope that these tips will be useful for you in your inclusive leadership journey.

- Get to know your team

- Educate yourself as an inclusive leader

- Connect

- Step up when you see any microaggressions and unconscious bias.

1. Get to know your team.

It's interesting to see how often we spend so much time at work together, but now we know too much about each other. We are too busy, moving from one meeting to another, so there is no time to actually talk about our personalities. Especially now, in a virtual, hybrid world, the world of efficiency - we have even less time and opportunity to actually talk to others about ourselves.

You might have LGBTQ+ people or colleagues with a neurodiversity spectrum, and they can be immigrants or refugees. There can be so many stories, and intersectionalities, that you might be very surprised.

Bring this conversation to your team. Don't plan it at the end of the business meeting. But inform your team members about the purpose of the discussion in advance. There may be someone feeling not comfortable having these talks. That's normal and should be respected. Demonstrate that this is important and is worth spending quality time on. People will appreciate it because they are seen and recognised for who they are.

It's always better to have one-to-one conversations at the beginning, getting to know your people better. Start by sharing facts about yourself. And reassure them that this is a safe environment and they don't need to share anything they don't want to. You do it to create an inclusive environment. You don't want to assume, and you ask.

Be a good listener. People can always feel if your interest is genuine, or just a formality.

2. Educate yourself as an inclusive leader

Though everyone talks now about diversity, inclusion and equality, it's always good to remind ourselves about their definition.

According to the University of Cambridge, equality means that all people should have equal rights and equal opportunities. Related to equality is equity, which is about providing the means - often varied - for people to move towards equal and just outcomes.

Inclusivity ​means making everyone feel welcome and valued.

Diversity is the fact of there being people of many different groups in society, within an organization.

The more data is available, the more research is accessible, so we have more sources to learn and get validated information. To stay aware of new conclusions, and new forms of social development.

If you are too worried about making a mistake or hurting anyone's feelings, just ask people. And they will tell you: how to pronounce their name correctly, what is important for them, do they feel comfortable sharing their personal immigrant journey, and whether they feel safe.

Ignorance is much worse than the lack of the latest information.

3. Connect

Yes, internal communication and networking, or supporting groups are great in building inclusive culture. But it's also important to stay connected externally. The best opportunity to learn is to learn from others. There might be people looking for inspiration and knowledge, like you. Or you can meet a thoughtful leader, who has a similar life experience to one of your team members.

Charity organisations supporting various groups of people organise events and webinars. They are a great source of information and a great networking opportunity.

Check local, and online events and connect with other inclusive leaders.

4. Step up when you see any microaggressions and unconscious bias.

To start with, it's good to know about your own biases. Everyone is biased. We just need to know ourselves and work on breaking those biases. They are especially dangerous in the workplace when they drive decisions and influence our opinions.

According to the Cambridge dictionary: 'Microaggression is a small act or remark that makes someone feel insulted or treated badly because of their, sex, etc., even though the insult, etc. may not have been intended, and that can combine with other similar remarks over time to cause emotional harm'.

Unconscious bias by the definition of the Royal Society is 'when we make judgments or decisions on the basis of our prior experience, our own personal deep-seated thought patterns, assumptions or interpretations, and we are not aware that we are doing it.'

Not only knowing and observing them is important. But also, stepping up when you can see how they affect negatively the organisations' work and environment.

For example, when you always hear ' Guys', you can make a remark to a speaker to be gender-neutral, especially when it's important for someone from your team.

When you are involved in the recruitment process, challenge interviewing panels, which consist of people with the same profile and background.

Speak up, as an inclusive leader, when you are observing any injustice or discrimination towards any of your colleagues.

By practising these 4 tips, you can become a better inclusive leader.

We are all humans, and we are all different. We can't ignore the importance of diversity and inclusion, and we can't say that we achieved complete equality, because we are not there yet. As a global community...

If you need our advice, we are always happy to help, just contact us anytime.


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