How to: Become more inclusive as a leader

An inclusive environment is one in which all employees feel valued, respected and engaged. The key is to tailor your approach to the specific needs of your team or organization. In this article, you’ll find some tips on how to become more inclusive as a leader.

Happy team looking at a laptop screen

Benefits of an inclusive work environment

A diverse workforce can give your organization a competitive edge because of the following reasons.

1. Increased creativity and innovation

A diverse workforce brings different perspectives and skills to the table. This can lead to increased creativity and innovation within your team and organization.

2. Enhanced decision-making

When everyone feels valued and respected, they're more likely to share their opinions and ideas. This can lead to better decision-making as a team.

3. Improved team performance

Inclusive teams tend to perform better than those that are not. This is because team members feel more engaged and motivated when they feel like they're part of a supportive, positive environment.

4. Increased employee retention

Inclusive workplaces are more likely to retain employees. This is because employees who feel like they belong are more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their job.

5. Attract top talent

An inclusive workplace is more attractive to top talent. This is because potential employees want to work in an environment where they feel valued and respected.

6. Improved bottom line

An inclusive workplace can lead to improved financial results. This is because a more engaged and motivated workforce is more productive and efficient.

Optimize inclusivity in your team

To ensure your team is on the path towards success, here are a few tips for optimizing inclusivity in your team.

1. Communicate openly and frequently about the importance of diversity and inclusion

Make it a point to talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion on a regular basis. This will help to reinforce the importance of these concepts within your team or organization.

2. Encourage employees to share their ideas and perspectives

When employees feel like they can openly share their ideas and perspectives, it creates a more inclusive environment. As a leader, you can encourage this by creating forums or opportunities for employees to share their thoughts, especially for the more introverted colleagues.

3. Be aware of your own biases

We all have biases, whether we realize it or not. It's important to be aware of your own biases so that you can avoid making assumptions or judgments about others. To gain insight into your unconscious biases, start by educating yourself. Research cultures and backgrounds that are different from your own. Talk to people who have experienced non-inclusive behaviour to challenge your own assumptions. This will help you become more aware of blind spots and areas for improvement.

4. Seek out diverse perspectives

When you're making decisions, be sure to seek out diverse perspectives. This will help you to make more informed decisions that are in line with the needs of a diverse workforce.

5. Promote employees based on merit, not just seniority

When you promote employees based on merit, it sends the message that everyone has an opportunity to succeed within your organization.

6. Provide training and development opportunities for all employees

Investing in the development of all employees is essential to creating an inclusive environment. By providing training and development opportunities, you're sending the message that everyone is valued and has the potential to grow within the organization.

7. Celebrate employees' cultural differences

One way to create a more inclusive environment is to celebrate the cultural differences of your employees. This can be done in a number of ways, such as hosting cultural celebrations or offering employees the opportunity to share their culture with others. Some companies allow employees to distribute free days related to national holidays themselves. While some prefer to take days off on Christmas, others might have a stronger preference for days off during the Pride week or Ramadan.

8. Be an advocate for change

If you want to create lasting change, you need to be an advocate for it. Speak up when you see unfairness or inequality. Be a champion for diversity and inclusion in your organization.

9. Model inclusive behaviour

As a leader, it's important to model the behaviour you want to see in others. Be thoughtful about how you address colleagues, use correct pronouns, and respect different perspectives. Help other colleagues to do the same.

Not a one-time event but an ongoing process

Diversity and inclusion are not static concepts. They are always evolving, which means that your efforts to promote them should also be ongoing. It's important to continually assess your team or organization to ensure that you're making progress. Additionally, don't be afraid to adjust your approach as needed. What works today may not work tomorrow, so it's important to be flexible in your approach.

Ultimately, the responsibility for promoting diversity and inclusion rests with leaders. It's up to leaders to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. By taking action to become more inclusive, you can make a positive impact on your team or organization.

Things to take-away

  • Being an inclusive leader allows you to create a more engaged and motivated workforce.
  • It helps you to make better decisions, as you're able to tap into the wealth of perspectives that come from a diverse team.
  • Modelling inclusive behaviour sets the tone for others in your organization, making it more likely that they will also adopt inclusive practices.
  • Inclusivity is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. It's important to continually assess your team or organization to ensure that you're making progress.

About me

Hi, I’m Lilian. I’m currently the head of a design team in a digital agency in Amsterdam and love to write about leadership and share tips based on my experience over the past couple of years.

Lead by design

I decided to start this blog as a way to share my thoughts on leadership. I’m passionate about helping others learn more about leadership and how to be a good leader, so I hope this blog will be helpful to those who are looking for tips and advice on leadership.

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