Inclusivity in Name Only? How to Test for the Real Thing
The benefits of an inclusive work culture are easy to spot with collaborative, high impact teams that make better decisions. It all begins with inclusive leaders and that means more than hiring a diversity | equity | inclusion (DEI) executive or forming an advisory board on diversity. To reap the rewards of an integrated culture in which a widely diverse group of employees feel accepted and valued, all leaders must embrace inclusivity. So how do you distinguish between a company that speaks the diversity language from those that have done the hard work to understand what it really takes to get there.
On average 32% of leaders overate their effectiveness at being inclusive and most are unsure of what behavior constitutes inclusivity. To test your organization for an inclusive culture, start by checking for these six behaviors: visible commitment; humility; awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, and effective collaboration. Some of these terms are self-explanatory but a few require further explanation to put them in context.
Humility by the simplest definition describes people who don’t brag about their accomplishments, education, or good fortune. To test for humility as a supporter of inclusivity, look for a leader who is not afraid to accept accountability for their own or their team’s mistakes. Add to that someone who shares the glory or spreads it out to the team by creating opportunities for each member to make an impact.
Awareness of Bias usually means that opposing factions heartedly promote their unique point of view. It is something we expect among political parties who use this concept to engage their constituents. Relevant to inclusivity, this behavior focuses on leaders seeking feedback to identify their own blind spots when it comes accepting differences. Addressing what we don’t know as defined by subordinates provides for continuous growth. Understanding bias also requires a willingness to recognize when the corporate system is broken and having the courage to address how to fix it. This is the formula for ensuring a merit based reward structure that is vital for engaging a diverse workforce.
Cultural Intelligence is a combination of two words that are familiar but used in a new way to reflect a leader’s understanding of today’s evolving demographics. It includes being curious about the viewpoints of each member of their team and takes this knowledge a step further by actively attending to those differences. Adapting to the needs of diverse employees is at the heart of cultural intelligence and is required to master inclusive leadership.
As an advocate for inclusivity, we encourage you to identify and celebrate the behaviors from this list that your company has mastered as well as courageously tackling those you have yet to attempt. At Xavier Creative, we recognize that inclusive leadership doesn’t happen overnight, and we support your ongoing efforts to maximize diverse human capital by developing an inclusive leadership team.