How To Be an Inclusive Leader at Your Workplace

Everyone matters in the workplace. Their values, history, and personality are a part of who they are. 

Acceptable workplace culture dictates that employees aren’t just people who work for you. Instead, you must treat everyone with value and respect regardless of their individual uniqueness. This is the starting point for how to be an inclusive leader at your workplace. 

Aside from the moral benefits, promoting inclusivity can impact other organizational sectors. BCG’s Rethink & Broaden Diversity Report states that 43% of people seeking new employment think hiring companies should speak on diversity and inclusivity. The same report says firms with a strong supplier diversity focus enjoy 1.3x more procurement ROI than comparable companies. 

This blog is your blueprint for creating an inclusive atmosphere where every employee can own their unique individuality. Here, we’ll discuss the best practices for inclusive leadership, what it entails, and how to do it right.

Free-to-use image sourced from Pexels

ALT: Typewriter with a page that says “Inclusivity” in the paper rest

Importance of inclusive leadership in the workplace

  • Inclusive leadership promotes a diversity of viewpoints in the workplace. Each individual can supply unique perspectives informed by their differences.

  • It promotes a sense of belonging among employees. Inclusive leadership develops team camaraderie and fosters an inclusive culture from the top down.

  • It enables team cohesion and seamless collaboration, helping employees to work together with increased productivity.

  • It also creates a positive reputation for the organization and helps to attract top talents.

How to be an inclusive leader at your workplace

Inclusive leadership conveys acceptance, respect, and support for every team member regardless of personal traits that may set them apart from others. 

Reflect on your own beliefs and biases

Inclusive leadership starts with recognizing personal beliefs and biases, no matter how inconsequential they may seem. For example, it’s easy to overlook choosing to work alongside a particular member because you support the same basketball team. But, you may be picking the wrong person for the job due to this bias. 

It’s your responsibility as a team leader to recognize biases that influence decisions involving team members. That will help you make fairer judgments based on employee conduct and excellence.

Educate yourself on diversity and inclusion

Continuous learning is key to developing your inclusive leadership skills. Educate yourself on different cultures, identities, and personalities. This knowledge pool is an asset you can draw from as you lead a diverse team. 

The common differences for measuring diversity level in a workplace include:

  • Ethnicity, 

  • Gender,

  • Age,

  • Sexual orientation,

  • Religious beliefs,

  • Socioeconomic backgrounds,

  • Physical abilities,

  • Political leaning.

Identify these differences in your team members and get informed. With information and a better understanding of potential employee pain points, you can develop a working environment where team members can co-exist equally. 

Image Sourced From

ALT: Inclusion and diversity statistics

Practice empathetic communication

Inclusive leadership entails using the right language choices and gestures when communicating with employees. It’s respecting and considering each employee’s uniqueness when interacting with them.

Empathy is a crucial element of how an inclusive leader communicates in the workplace. Empathy makes you more open-minded toward your team members. That makes it easier for you to understand and share your employee’s sentiments.

Combining empathy and appropriate language choices creates empathetic communication. Incorporate other soft skills, such as active listening, alongside, and you’re on your way to creating a healthy, inclusive workspace for everyone. 

Effectively address bias and discrimination

Inclusivity doesn’t thrive in a work environment where prejudice goes unchecked. As such, you must implement policies and initiatives that discourage discriminatory behavior among employees. Make it clear that you stand against actions that undermine inclusivity and diversity.

It’s easy to cross the line between inclusivity and bias in a diverse workplace, especially during conflict resolution. You must consider each individual’s needs while examining the situation and deciding on any conflict.

Overall, you should always show your total commitment to workplace inclusivity. For example, the leadership team at McDonald’s recently showed their support for an inclusive workplace through a gender balance campaign. 

In 2019, the company unveiled the “Better Together” campaign to promote gender balance and diversity. The campaign included interesting initiatives such as a “Women in Tech” program that encouraged capacity building for women in data science, AI, and cybersecurity fields.

During the campaign, the company’s leadership team changed their LinkedIn profile pictures to ones with the McDonald’s arches upside down. This depicted the leadership team’s commitment to overturning gender bias in the company.  

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ALT: Promotional Page for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Construct feedback that supports growth

As a leader, you must always bring the best out of your employees. But sometimes, they can perform below expectations. When that happens, focus on constructive criticism aimed at fostering growth. Give feedback that highlights employee strengths while also touching on areas of improvement.

In addition, actively promote open dialogue and feedback exchange between team members. If necessary, create systems and implement tools that streamline interaction between individuals and teams.

Build diverse and collaborative teams 

A diverse workplace has people with all kinds of uniqueness represented in its workforce. These differences may be in ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic background.

A workplace must have a healthy balance of people with all these attributes to qualify as a diverse environment. 

To create a diverse and inclusive team, you must first reevaluate recruitment and employee promotion processes. Then, develop onboarding strategies with inclusivity in mind. You must adopt a broader spectrum outlook—actively seeking diverse talents and ensuring an unbiased employment procedure.

Set up benefits and packages based on diversity

Workplace incentives shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all packages. Each employee will have their preferences or needs based on their unique characteristics. Inclusive leadership also involves setting up benefit programs with this diversity in mind.

Consider the uniqueness of each team member and tailor their incentives to what would be most helpful to them. For example, a leave extension and better health insurance may be more appreciated than a company-sponsored trip.  

Proactively review and update HR policies

As we implied earlier, you must regularly review your hiring and employee promotion processes to make sure they’re inclusive. More importantly, work towards clear, unbiased human resource policies.

Involve employees in policy creation processes to get their opinions before passing any new policy. They know where the shoe pinches and can provide counter opinions to help you finetune policy proposals. 

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ALT: How inclusive leaders drive organizational growth 

Provide training programs for leaders and employees

Inclusivity training programs will help create awareness and understanding among leaders and employees. Such initiatives will help the participants identify and address unconscious biases while developing inclusive communication skills.

Alongside training resources, incorporate career planning and development software to push each employee to personal & professional growth. With this software, you can identify learning needs and set learning goals based on current skill levels. A comprehensive career development initiative such as this can attract diverse talent in your field and reduce turnover rates. 

Establish KPIs to measure progress in fostering inclusivity

Setting metrics and milestones is essential to determining the effectiveness of your inclusivity strategies. Metrics such as workforce productivity, attendance levels, and employee engagement will spotlight your progress relative to your starting position.

Establish key performance indexes and measure them with an HR software reporting program. Armed with concrete data, you can identify areas that require improvements based on these metrics per time.

Embrace inclusivity and encourage employees to follow suit

Inclusive leadership is not just a management style; it’s a culture that celebrates differences in team members and encourages acceptance in a work environment. 

To be an inclusive leader at your workplace, you must always see beyond each individual’s uniqueness and shun all forms of bias. This, alongside a culture of empathy and diversity initiatives, will make your workplace more inclusive.