5 ways to display inclusive leadership
An inclusive leader is someone who values diversity within their organisation. They understand that diverse teams perform better and that there is power within our differences. For a long time, ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ was been seen as something for big companies to worry about, but the conversation is changing, and more businesses are now looking at this earlier in their journey.
You are never too small, and it is never too early to embed diverse and inclusive practices into your business. Here are five steps you can take to get started;
1. Explore your biases
None of us like to think that we are biased, but almost all of us are. Our brains are designed to process vast amounts of information at incredible speed, and this means that they need to make quick decisions and snap judgements. Perhaps we make assumptions about someone’s language capabilities based on their name, or think that a parent won’t want a challenging new project to work on. Whilst we may not be able to eradicate our biases altogether, what we can do is to start to become more familiar with them and work to stop the thoughts in their tracks.
2. Diversify your advisors
Think about all of the people who have an influence on your business decisions. It could be your team members, your coach, your board, your mentor, your friends. Now ask yourself if there is diversity within that group of people. Without even realising it, many of us build a network of people with similar backgrounds and beliefs to ourselves. This can result in decisions that are made with one particular group in mind, or at the very worst, decisions that harm others. It is your role as the business leader to actively seek out new voices and broaden your network.
3. Review where you invest
As a business leader, there are three main investments that you make – money, time and skills. Take some time to audit these investments and recognise who benefits from them. For example, are all your suppliers from the same ethnic background? Are you only mentoring people who are the same gender as you? Do you volunteer with organisations that support people from different backgrounds? Once you know who is benefitting, you can make conscious decisions to change that in the future and make sure that your investments are benefitting a wider range of people.
4. Show vulnerability
When a leader shares their own personal stories and vulnerabilities, it shows the rest of the team that it’s ok. You could start to talk about barriers you’ve faced or how scared you are about getting things wrong. This type of openness will encourage others within your company to share their thoughts and stories too. Then it’s your turn to listen. When we start to connect with others on a more human level, we better understand each other, and our working relationships improve. It’s one thing to have diversity, it’s another to truly embrace everyone as they are.
5. Make public commitments
If there are changes you need to make in order to become more diverse and inclusive, share these with your staff and customers, and tell them what you’re planning to do about it. It’s scary, but being public about your commitments brings a level of trust and accountability that just doing that same work in the background never can. You may not always get it right, but you’ll be taking a stand and showing what your business truly believes in.
These five steps are a starting point, building blocks to start moving you to a more diverse and inclusive culture. There will be times when you make mistakes, that’s ok; acknowledge, apologise and learn for next time. The world is changing, it’s progressive but also uncertain. Businesses have the power to make a positive impact on the world, but to do this, we need leadership that reflects the diverse communities that we work in.
Article written by Hanna Andersen, Founder & Leadership Coach at AS WE ARE.
Visit https://www.asweare.org.uk for more information.