Leading with Inclusion at the Core

Diversity

Looking online one can see that most companies post their Core Values on their websites.  Often Core Values are also included in employee handbooks and other such marketing materials.  

I have two questions to explore…

  • First, how do those values “show up” in the organization and can they be evident to an “outsider?”
  • Second, with this “global economy” I’m surprised to see that inclusion and/or diversity are not more often a publicly noted and institutionalized Core Value. Instead, organizations are using those terms as a side note or “part of” another value statement. I ask why?

Leading Diversity

Issues regarding workforce diversity and inclusion have been in the media forefront the last 10-15 years and more fervently with the first and now second election of President Barack Obama.

The beautiful panorama of our diverse nation is evident in nearly every screenshot when President Obama is speaking publicly.

Most of those individuals make up our workforce.

My concern is that some leaders view the terms “diversity” and “inclusion” as  cliché or have the attitude that, “we know we have a diverse culture, why state it?”

  • Are leaders are becoming callused to the term “diversity?”
  • Why isn’t one or both a stated Core Value?

Let’s take a look at this from a different perspective.

How do we open up the communication chains and increase inclusion as leaders?

Adapting & Leveraging

In a 2010 Q&A With Velma Hart she states this:

“Diversity and inclusiveness speaks to changing environments. In its heart, in its essence, that’s what it’s about. If we cannot adapt and leverage the opportunity that the differences that are happening around us all the time as leaders bring to discussions, bring to planning, bring to execution of programs, and bring to everything we do, then we are absolutely missing the boat, and that includes the notion of diversity of thought… And the richness of the debate is what brings, I think, a better product forward.”

Increasing Cultural Competency

Let’s increase our cultural competency and commit to diversity and inclusion.  Doing so would make stronger organizations and illustrate how we “show up” as organizational leaders.

To many organizations still have bias’ when seeking diverse team members as they recruit, omit practices that support inclusion when providing professional development opportunities, or ignore formalizing and implementing a diversity strategy for organizational health, growth and sustainability.

Building and institutionalizing formal practices that ensure an inclusive organizational culture is critical for success and business growth.

In the article, The Six Core Values of Innovation by Jeff De Cagna inclusively is a key to being innovative.

If a company is innovative and seeks sustainability that key component cannot be omitted.

Re-Examining Diversity

To take a closer look, Deloitte is re-examining the business case for diversity.  Deloitte shared this:

A “2011 Forbes Insight survey of 300 multi-national executives in which 41% identified the ‘failure to perceive the connection between diversity and business drivers’ as a barrier to developing and implementing a diversity strategy.”

It’s time to recognize that there is a connection, move beyond the barrier, and open the doors for increased communication and strategic planning.

Celebrate our uniqueness, don’t avoid it but prepare and may take time for those who haven’t addressed this before today.

5 Keys to Success

In my view there are 5 keys to successfully embracing diversity and inclusion as a leader and in a company.

  1. Create a diversity and inclusion strategy plan as an integral part of business planning goals. Sylvia Ann Hewett Associates shares great ideas for getting started and there are many other examples online.  A consultant or diversity coach would be very helpful during the planning process and may assist during implementation.
  2. Ensure multiple opportunities and a variety of professional development and team building activities to increase diversity awareness.
  3. Empower employees and encouraged to voice their concerns. Have a “safe place” for each person to share his or her observations and make certain someone follows-up with feedback that is both supportive and constructive.
  4. When the company’s Core Values are formed, show  online how they are embraced.  Teach for America and Target have great illustrations of this concept.
  5. The company’s president must embrace it, endorse it and reinforce it!  Without his or her buy-in the strategy will never succeed.

Egon Zehnder International couldn’t have said it better,

“CEOs who understand the nuances of cognitive bias, nip microinequities in the bud and hire for competency in diversity will find it is well worth the effort. With the commitment to diversity—and leadership competence in addressing it—flowing from the top, such CEOs create the potential for a wealth of business benefits.”

Does your organization include diversity or inclusion in its Core Values? If so, how does it “show up” in everyday business practices? If not, how can you influence a change of perspective during discussions and create action leading to a plan including a positive engagement of diversity and inclusion practices? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Kilby Watson
Kilby Watson
 is an advocate for Leadership Through Learning
She leads change through education, professional and organizational development
Email | LinkedIn | Web

Image Sources:cdn2-b.examiner.com

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