The Role of Leadership in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
A more diverse and inclusive workplace is open to more ideas, is more innovative and experimental, and ultimately has a better chance of success when inviting new and unique perspectives. They tend to have a better reputation and retain employees more easily. And diversity and inclusion can start at the top. A leader who is open to and wants to build a more diverse and inclusive workspace can and should do so. But it does take work.
Leaders who promote inclusivity must be strong in what they believe in and open to collaboration. Listening and working with others to solve problems should be a part of any leader’s tool kit, especially when creating a diverse workplace where everyone feels welcome and able to contribute.
Overall, a more diverse and inclusive workplace is a better place to work for everyone. People can share new ideas and develop great moves for the business that may never have been considered. The company culture improves through inclusivity, and with positive morale comes more productivity. And all of this can begin with leadership.
Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion
The benefits of embracing a more diverse and inclusive workspace impact an entire company. It can help both the current employees as well as those coming in or who are interested in the business.
Retention and Attraction
Employees want to work at companies that value them and their input. Everyone wants to be heard, and working within a more diverse workforce that seeks to include the entire team helps people feel more involved and able to contribute. This inclusive kind of company culture translates to employees wanting to stay and work hard for a company they know values them. It helps them feel more invested in their work because a difference is being made, and their contributions matter.
This type of culture not only makes people want to stay at a company, but it makes people want to apply. Job openings attract more applicants when a company shows they value diversity and want to create an inclusive atmosphere. And more applicants means more top talent you may have the opportunity to hire.
A business that establishes an inclusive workspace for everyone brings about more innovation. A diverse group of employees offers a wider variety of experiences and perspectives to help solve problems in new and different ways. When a company can fully embrace all those ideas and put them to good use, they have more chances to succeed and thrive. This kind of collaboration also helps employees feel valued and gives people more opportunities to gain experience in different fields and learn to lead more effectively.
Working with many different ideas and viewpoints can be challenging, but a good leader can hear everyone out and know what will work best for a company. A level of emotional intelligence and empathy are crucial for a leader to help everyone feel they contribute and provide value.
Diversity and Inclusion: Better Culture
Some people may worry that focusing on diversity and inclusion will lessen what others say or push certain voices out. But the entire point of equality is to help everyone be heard and be able to add to the conversation. And when inclusion is at the forefront, employees can work together more and create stronger bonds.
Collaboration and teamwork take practice. It may not be a well-oiled machine right away. Some people may need to learn where others are coming from at first. But a good leader can show through example how to build something together and play to everyone’s individual strengths.
The Leadership Role
Leadership plays the most important role in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. A leader can set the tone for company culture and determine whose voices are heard in certain rooms. Working toward a more diverse team that focuses on teamwork and inclusion can take time, but it is worth the effort. The benefits can lead to a more successful company and a more motivated staff.
Many people think they are open-minded and willing to hear out anyone about anything. When in fact, many of us are dealing with internal biases and preferences that dictate our decisions whether we realize it or not. And leaders can often rely on habits or specific set rules to carry on when change could help a company grow and adapt for the better.
Leading with an open mind is one of the best ways to start working toward inclusion. The willingness to learn from people with different backgrounds and perspectives will allow for unique ideas and more teamwork. Collaboration is a crucial aspect of many businesses, and being open to others is how that starts. You can only work together if you are listening and showing a willingness to learn. Even leaders have things to learn and recognizing that can help them invite more diversity and inclusion.
A leader often builds the team they will work with in the future and who they lead. And building a more diverse and inclusive team can create one built on collaboration and new ideas. Leaders must be ready to stand next to their employees in an inclusive team instead of above them. Creating a space where people feel equal and able to share their thoughts and ideas takes a powerful and self-assured leader who knows how to work with many different people.
Teams may not immediately work well but taking the time to get to know how others work can help. And investing in training and other opportunities can boost teamwork and help leaders and employees incorporate new ideas.
The idea of a trickle-down effect isn’t always accurate, but leaders often lead by example. Showing that they are capable of their job and can teach others helps build respect. And this can be translated into a more inclusive workspace. A leader who shows that inclusivity and diversity are a priority will also help other employees embrace those concepts.
Acknowledging how different opinions and perspectives can be valuable in a workplace can help others embrace those ideas. People want to succeed and can sometimes see inclusion as a threat to a pre-established hierarchy. It is important to break down that idea and show that it is about everyone feeling valued and heard and letting people contribute. And it leads to more interesting problem-solving.
Diversity and Inclusion: Fighting Bias
Part of being open-minded and leading a more diverse workplace starts with confronting bias. Everyone has biases they learn, whether consciously or unconsciously. And these may not feel like a big deal until you are the one making a lot of the major decisions. Try and face what kinds of biases you might have and how to think through them when they arise.
A bias is developed as a shortcut for the brain. While this isn’t inherently bad, most biases aren’t based on facts and can lead people to make poor decisions because they took the shortcut. Self-reflection and learning about biases can help leaders combat these problems. Knowing when you might fall into that kind of thinking can allow you to take a moment and prevent it from taking over. Remember that biases are a part of life and are not always intentional. What we do about them is. Start with learning what biases may impact you at your job and how that can impact other employees and your decisions.
Building Better Businesses
A leader needs to be invested in improving and be self-critical at times to build a more diverse workplace. Biases and egos may impact the company negatively and hinder company culture and productivity. Dealing with those issues so that employees feel included and able to contribute will open up new solutions and more teamwork. And it will overall help the company’s bottom line.
An inclusive and diverse company is more inviting to a wider pool of future employees and motivates others to stay and want the company to succeed. To build an inclusive space, leaders must often confront past beliefs and ideas they hold onto. But this can help you be more open-minded and ensure you make decisions based on what is best for the company and not based on biases. If you want to learn more about how you can lead from a more human-focused perspective, check out this webinar and become a better leader today.