Leading Inclusion: Three Ways to Make Your Organization Inclusive
New Book Giveaway!
20 copies available!!
Leave a comment on this guest post by Dr. Gena Cox to become eligible for one of 20 complimentary copies of her book, Leading Inclusion.
Deadline for eligibility is 10/15/2022. International winners will receive electronic version.
What hinders race-based inclusion in corporate life?
I interviewed 20 corporate leaders and surveyed 496 employed women (including 149 Black women) as background for Leading Inclusion. Many leaders were avoiding “diversity and inclusion” for three reasons.
- They feared alienating colleagues and clients.
- They were unsure these issues belonged on their “plates”.
- They did not understand the employees who might benefit from these efforts.
Black women surveyed said leaders’ avoidance of these issues felt disrespectful and alienating.
Leaders must bridge the gap.
This difference in perspective is an emotional and experience gap, not an operational or financial one. To close this gap, managers and employees must connect purposefully. Leaders have both the opportunity and accountability to build inclusive organizations.
3 ways to make your organization inclusive:
#1. Set the tone from the top
Top-level leaders must establish the vision and model inclusive behavior. Otherwise, managers who do not value this work will delay or obstruct the necessary communication and behavior change.
Top-down leadership is essential so all employees can see that human variation is normal and appreciated.
#2. Address both diversity and inclusion
Hiring more people from historically marginalized groups enhances diversity. However, leaders must also create inclusive work cultures in which diverse hires feel respected (seen, heard, and empowered) as they do their jobs.
Inclusion tops diversity. Diversity without inclusion feels like attending a dinner party where the host forgot to set a place for you. New hires in these situations soon become disengaged.
#3. Make sure managers are walking the talk
Managers’ actions significantly impact employees’ day-to-day experience. Coach managers to ensure all employees get equal access to development and career mobility opportunities. Hold managers accountable for 100% leadership by soliciting employee input, rewarding inclusive manager behavior, and withholding rewards from leaders who do not adapt.
How might leaders build inclusive organizations?
Dr. Gena Cox, CEO of Feels Human, LLC, is an organizational psychologist, executive coach, and author. Her book, Leading Inclusion helps corporate leaders build inclusive organizations from the top down. In addition, Gena coaches executives to stop using 2019 behavior to address 2022 workplace challenges. Click here for a copy of Gena’s Inclusion Skin in The Game Warm-Up Tool.
I once had a leader who allowed for what seemed like unending silences in planning meetings. This was all done to ensure that those who were working in their second or third language would have the time to process the input they received and formulate their contributions to the process.
Many thanks for covering the area of inclusion. Even though most of the organisations would theoretically agree for inclusion,. But when it comes to practice, we see huge gaps in implementing the same without hurting the feelings of the hired. In contrast, in some cases, employees from the locality/country feel alienated because of the the differential/preferential treatment by the leader/leadership team in the organisation.
I cannot agree with this more… absolutely accurate! Change like this doesn’t happen from the easy chair.
Breaking deeply embedded and normalized white, male, abled, heterosexual ways of doing things requires discomfort from those who lead – mainly white, male, abled, heterosexuals.
“Inclusivity tops diversity” is so true! Too many companies still marginalize employees and sabotage their diversity efforts. Keeping leaders aligned and accountable for inclusive behavior will allow everyone a voice in their organization.
I loved the quote, “Diversity without inclusion feels like attending a dinner party where the host forgot to set a place for you. New hires in these situations soon become disengaged.” It is so true that you can have a company-wide diversity initiative, but if you don’t model it with true inclusion, it is only superficial.
This could be a game changer in schools. I look forward to reading this book!
I think the most important part on this list is set the tone from the top. When leaders set expectation through their words and actions it trickles down.
Thanks for this post. Looks like a great book.
Definitely a place where intention and action are not always in sync. Looking forward to reading this book.
Inclusivity and diversity are very important without any doubt. Regardless of what happened in the past, if we want these efforts to be successful, we have to make these as important and absolutely integral norms for all levels of employment without finding targets to attack. I know this is not what some want but I am looking for success in everyone feeling included and belonging rather than taking revenge from some.
#1 is a good reminder…We must always start at the top and set the tone…
I would love a copy of this book! Our organization is working on ways to be more intentionally inclusive and diverse. As a leader in the organization, this book would provide valuable insight I can share with my colleagues.
Addressing behavior real time for all levels of management is important to changing to a more inclusive culture.
I really agree that inclusion tops diversity. So many times people think that having a more diverse work force makes for a more inclusive setting, but this is not true. Often diversity in groups may even pit themselves against each other. There needs to be an inclusive culture above all.
I am actually in the process of completing my research on inclusion for my doctorate. I specifically separated inclusion from diversity because the research demonstrates that they are different, while they can make each better when understood clearly independently, they are different. With that said, I love this quite – this difference in perspective is an emotional and experience gap, not an operational or financial one. We have far too many leaders that are fearful and unwilling to lean into developing the experience so that they can find greater comfort in the emotionality of it. Humans are beautifully complex and at times messy, we need to stop pretending that we aren’t.
These are both key metrics for any business to be successful and profitable. It will make a destination employer!
It is so important to address the uncomfortableness folks feel around this topic, mostly due to not feeling they have the training and tools to address it with confidence.
I am the President or our real estate board and we are working hard to be inclusive, equitable and diverse. I am sharing this post with my leadership. I already recommended this blog to them earlier in the year!
Thank you for your work!
This is absolutely crucial in all schools, agencies and communities. I think it is a priority and thank you for your work!
Leaders set the tone by example. If employees see their leader not walking the talk, failure is sure to follow.
Inclusion is key. If you create a diverse yet non-inclusive workforce your diverse employee will leave and share with the world that while they can get a job at your place of employment, you can’t make a contribution, then you can’t achieve diversity or inclusion. Leaders must commit to inclusion.
This post makes me want to believe it is easy to change the culture of a workplace to have more inclusivity, but we all know how hard this is. It makes me want to sit and talk to my work team to see where they think we stand on this and how we can take small steps to improve, even if it is just our department within a larger organization. I hope that we can model what should be done and help other departments learn from what we do. Our larger organization is still run by primarily male executives who are nearing retirement age. I think when this starts to happen, the shift in culture comes with it as the old school way of thinking also retires. Definitely food for thought and reflection today (as so many posts are).
This was a great read
This is an important topic that we as school districts are working on through professional development, curricular choices, and our policies and procedures. Thanks for calling attention to it.
As an aspiring administrator equity is at the heart of my WHY. Inclusion is a huge piece of this and I would love to learn more!
Your 3 bullet points are essential to increasing both diversity and inclusion. Training, constant and continual, and accountability are essential to achieve inclusion, also, particularly training using actual scenarios and personnel in the corporation. People often don’t even notice what others consider biased,racist, or insulting to marginalized persons. Aware managers are hard to come by, so the ongoing training should be central to increasing inclusion and diversity in corporations.
This is absolutely true… My organization has yearly symposiums titled ” Bridging The Gap” they make sure everyone is included.
I appreciated this post. As a leader who has a trans staff member, I am continuously looking for ideas to ensure they feel included in all aspects of our organization.
It can be difficult to start with creating an inclusive space, because it can feel like setting a place for people we may not be certain we can get to accept the invitation. I’ve seen the power of this approach, though, and I appreciate the quote.
Inclusivity and access can be daunting if you take it all at once – but like any effort, it becomes easier to accomplish with each intentional step. Being present, LISTENING, and being open to change… those are the first steps. Just gotta keep at it!
Dan, would you please add definitions of inclusion and diversity? Thank you.
Thank you for the critical reminder that while both these topics are important, inclusion (and supporting leader behaviours) should be our key focus.
Thanks for the great read!
Great info! Please send me a link to buy the book, thanks