Are You an ‘Inclusive’ Leader?

As the business landscape continues to evolve, leaders are recognising the undeniable value of fostering inclusive environments within their organisations. Research indicates that organisations embracing inclusivity are experiencing significant benefits, ranging from increased innovation revenue to enhanced profitability. In fact, inclusive organisations are found to be 73% more likely to reap the rewards of innovation revenue, 70% more likely to expand into new markets, and up to 50% more likely to make sound decisions.

But what is ‘inclusive leadership’? 

Inclusive leadership promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organisation. It involves creating a supportive and welcoming environment where all individuals, regardless of their background or identity, feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. Inclusive leaders prioritise listening to diverse voices, fostering collaboration, and championing fairness and equality in decision-making. They recognise the importance of diversity in driving innovation, creativity, and organisational success, and actively work to break down barriers and biases that may hinder inclusion. Overall, inclusive leadership involves creating a culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging and is encouraged to thrive.

 We reached out to the expert speakers who will present at the upcoming UnderOne Festival this summer, to get their insights on fostering a culture of inclusive leadership.

Dr Noemie Hermeking, Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Fortschritt Bayern in Germany, said:

“As an anthropologist, I have extensively researched Indigenous communities in North America. A Menominee man once said to me that “leaders are on the bottom and never on top “, meaning leadership is about serving your community and not self-gratification.  I think this applies quite well to inclusive leadership. As leaders we should ask what employees necessitate to work in a healthy and respectful environment where they can thrive and feel that they belong.”

“Inclusive leadership is about taking the time to know your own strengths and weaknesses and those of all your team members to leverage and develop them in thoughtful, equitable and effective ways. Be curious by asking questions and compassionate by truly listening. Be courageous enough and have the difficult conversations and remain committed to removing barriers and driving progress even when it’s hard. Call out problematic behaviours and call in those you aren’t hearing from so their voice matters. Treat every individual as such because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to inclusive, impactful leadership”, said Sybil Taunton, Head of Quality, Equity & Inclusion at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Creating an inclusive workplace requires more than just good intentions; it requires active listening and empathy. Claire Thomas, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Hitachi Vantara, emphasised the importance of truly understanding the needs of others when they come to you for assistance.

“When someone has the courage to come to you with a challenge or request for help, do not assume you know what that person may need. Give them your full attention, listen without judgment, and ask them what help or support would be most useful,” she said.

As you reflect on your own leadership style, do you rate yourself as an inclusive leader? Do you actively listen to the needs of your team members, champion diversity, and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected? Join us at the UnderOne Festival on July 24th-25th at the University of Northampton, where we’ll come together to learn, share experiences, and inspire one another to become better, more inclusive leaders. See you there!

Get your tickets HERE.

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