As a senior leader, it’s your role to listen to your teams, internalize what is top of mind for them, and develop strategies to create a more inclusive organization. According to a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, “teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively.”
Diversity is a given, but inclusion is a choice. Inclusive leadership must be intentional to remain innovative and successful. In other words, it should be conscious. Conscious inclusion means deliberately cultivating systems and mindsets that produce both a positive working experience and equitable outcomes for all employees.
Let’s break that down.
When people have positive working experiences:
- They feel comfortable being themselves
- Their team and manager care about them as a person
- They can express their opinions freely, and
- Their input and ideas are valued.
Equitable outcomes means that, for example, people:
- Are fairly recognized for their accomplishments and potential
- Receive clear, regular feedback and input on their performance and goals
- Are evaluated consistently and fairly, and
- Have equitable opportunities for learning and growth.
There are three steps to begin working toward conscious inclusion in your organization:
1. START WITH YOURSELF. Recognize and mitigate your own unconscious biases. Be a role model for your team, and prioritize how your words and actions may come across.
2. LEAD INCLUSIVE CHANGE. Deliberately build a culture of inclusion and equity, where everyone feels heard. This does not mean that you’re acting on everyone’s suggestions or ideas, but it does mean you’re actively listening. Make a visible commitment to inclusion every day.
3. BE ACCOUNTABLE. Make conscious inclusion a continuous process of building your intercultural competence muscle, gaining cultural literacy about groups you’re less familiar with and are important to your team and organization, and driving accountability for yourself, your direct reports, and your teams.
We at LCW live out conscious inclusion. Our people leaders hold 1-1s with their direct reports regularly, ensuring there is alignment on projects and career goals, but also to continue getting to know each other as whole people. Our Wellness Initiative is another concrete example of conscious inclusion. Part of this initiative is piloting an unlimited vacation policy in 2022. Our CEOs and people leaders lead by example by actually using their paid time off and encouraging their direct reports and teams to do the same, holding each team member accountable for their wellbeing.
Conscious inclusion requires development of inclusive mindsets and equitable systems in your diverse organization. We incorporate the concepts above within our discussion-centered workshop for Senior Leaders, “Leading with Conscious Inclusion.” Book a consultation meeting with LCW today to talk through different ways you can embed conscious inclusion within your team and organization.