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.

Inclusive organizations: Diversity without inclusion feels like attending a dinner party where the host forgot to set a place for you. Image of an empty chair.

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.

  1. They feared alienating colleagues and clients.
  2. They were unsure these issues belonged on their “plates”.
  3. 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.