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Why Inclusive Leadership matters

The support of inclusive leaders has been critical on my journey, shaping my experiences and contributing to my growth as a leader. Their advocacy, support, and commitment to inclusivity made me feel like I belonged. When you stand up for others, you send a message that it is acceptable for others to do the same.

This article is intended for leaders who want to make their organisations a place where everyone thrives. I will discuss how inclusive leadership coaching can contribute to creating equitable workplaces as part of a strategic and outcome-driven diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy.

Leadership Challenges

The workplace can be challenging due to dynamics associated with racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of injustice. A challenge for all of us is deepening our knowledge of lived experiences different to our own.

For example, how much do you understand about the needs of your neurodivergent people? It is estimated that 15-20% of the world's population is neurodivergent, including those with dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and autism. In the workplace, people may not want to disclose this information, so it is likely that your team may not be setup for doing their best work.

My leadership journey

As a leader, I have often found myself as the only woman in the room. Those inappropriate comments that suggest the only reason I am here is due to affirmative action can be exhausting. To be the only one calling out bad behavior is hard. So when an ally backs me up, it's a relief. Not because I do not know how to handle bad behaviour myself, but because it is tedious and exhausting.

How to be a better ally

Struggling to know what to do or say in that awkward meeting when you saw a colleague experiencing bias?

Here's one thing to do after the meeting.

Ask this simple yet powerful question--> How can I be a better ally in the future?

 …majority of men (86%) say they are personally committed to interrupting sexist behaviors when they see them in the workplace—but only 31% feel confident they can do so. Women in the Workplace 2022 LeanIn.Org 

Three people in the workplace looking at charts on a table. All we can see are there hands. Photo is cropped to zoom in.

What is inclusive leadership?

Inclusive leadership refers to the practice of becoming more aware of our inherent biases, developing a greater understanding of different social and cultural experiences and needs, and actively seeking diverse perspectives to work collaboratively with others. This approach involves treating team members with respect, providing them with the necessary resources and support, and creating work environments that allows them to do their best work and achieve their full potential.

Why inclusive leadership matters

Organisations that prioritize inclusion are 73% more likely to generate revenue from innovation, 70% more likely to enter new markets, up to 50% more likely to make enhanced decisions, and up to 36% more likely to achieve above-average profitability.

What do inclusive leaders do?

  1. Create a safe space for employees: Inclusive leaders encourage participation by creating safe spaces for employees to exchange ideas, embrace different perspectives and let employees know their contributions are valued.

  2. Prioritise DEI in your company vision: Inclusive leaders prioritise DEI from inclusive workplace policies to hiring and promotion.

  3. Foster belongingness and psychological safety: Inclusive leaders play a critical role in promoting inclusivity within their organisations, accounting for a difference of up to 70 per cent points in employees' experience of belongingness and psychological safety.

  4. Promote social and cultural awareness in the workplace: Inclusive leaders get to know employees and facilitate inclusive team activities beyond going to the pub at lunchtime.

  5. Commit to continuous learning and improvement: Recognising unconscious bias requires humility, courage, vulnerability, empathy and emotional intelligence. It is an ongoing process that involves continuous learning, self-reflection, and improvement.

How to develop inclusive leaders

Coaching can help organisations develop inclusive leadership behaviours. However, coaching should be linked to overall businesss strategy and DEI goals. Studies show that tailored coaching can bring numerous benefits;

  1. Improved Performance and Communication Skills: Over 70% of individuals who receive coaching report benefiting from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills.

  2. Increased Self-Confidence: Approximately 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence.

  3. Empowerment and Responsibility: Coaching empowers individuals and encourages them to take responsibility, leading to increased employee and staff engagement.

  4. Enhanced Relationship Building and Empathy: Research indicates that coaching can lead to a significant increase in relationship building, recognition, empathy, and encouraging participation among leaders.

How does inclusive leadership coaching work?

As coaches, we provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for leaders to explore their leadership styles through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We curate a range of podcasts, articles and books to help broaden your thinking.

During our coaching sessions, we support you in working through challenges where you may feel stuck on what to do or say. These sessions are completely confidential, and we create a psychologically safe space for you to share your thoughts and feelings. Through self-reflection, reading and gentle challenges from your coach, you will build confidence and improve your knowledge and skills as a leader.

Recommended reading for inclusive leadership

4 book covers

Inclusive leadership is a journey

In summary, coaching tailored to the organisation's unique needs and its leaders and teams is a powerful tool for driving sustained change in inclusive leadership behaviours, ultimately leading to a more diverse, equitable, and high-performing workplace.


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