Creating Inclusive Companies requires a mix of inclusive leadership, inclusion planning, and inclusion training for your staff.
What do we mean by ‘Inclusive Leadership’?
Vernā Myers said “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” However, real inclusion is asking “How do you dance and can we learn a new dance together?” To be truly inclusive, a company’s leaders have to ask all their people to the dance and provide the right environment for the dance to become a collective performance.
Inclusion is about fostering an organisational culture that enables every person to say, “I feel valued here. I can be my true self and so I can contribute all of my talents and my potential to this organisation.”
Revealingly, a survey for the Resource Management White Paper presented at HR World 2015 found that 33% of HR executives believed demographic shifts and increased workplace diversity will have the biggest impact on HR by 2025, but only 34% of employees believed that management is prepared to lead a diverse workforce.
Leadership is critical in creating an inclusive environment in which all staff thrive and a company reaps the financial, social and reputational rewards that this brings. This means moving beyond unconscious bias in isolation and creating a culture of inclusion in your company in which the norms of behaviour are truly inclusive of all. To do this, inclusive leaders have to model these norms in everything they do and across all business functions.
Why Be Inclusive?
Cultivating a diverse employee population where everyone feels equally included and able to bring their best selves to work is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also better for business.
The McKinsey 2018 Delivering Through Diversity Report found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. Companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better-than-average profits.
Being open-minded to employees who bring unique experience and expertise to the table can only help your business. Encouraging diverse thought can mean the difference between market leading strategic thinking and strategising just like everyone else. Operationally, it can be the difference between projects getting stuck in group-think ruts and agile teams innovating and creatively solving problems.
One of the best ways to boost your company’s capacity to innovate involves hiring more women and culturally diverse team members. Two separate pieces of research in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice and Economic Geography, covering nearly 12,000 companies in Britain and Spain, showed that companies with more women were more likely to introduce radical new innovations into the market, and that businesses run by culturally diverse leadership teams were more likely to develop new products than those with homogeneous leadership. According to Accenture, team performance improves by 50% when everyone feels included.
In a nutshell, enriching your employee pool and senior management team with representatives of different genders, races, sexualities, faiths, nationalities and people who are differently abled will boost your company’s intellectual and innovative potential. At the same time, you need to make sure the organization has inclusive practices so that everyone feels they belong and their voices can be heard. All of this will make your teams smarter and your organization more successful.