What Inclusive Leaders Are Doing Right Now.

At a time when organizations large and small are focused on making the “right” kind of public statements regarding Diversity, equity and Inclusion, many are asking what leaders at these organizations are actually doing to improve their workplaces. This topic, which is closely related to our blog post last week, “Words Matter. Actions Matter More,” was the main focus of our latest “Future of Work” Mastermind Roundtable. Together, the group came up with three key actions that forward-thinking leaders are eagerly embracing.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Inclusive leaders are leading from the front, communicating up, down and sideways in an inclusive way. They are also intentional about creating a safe environment that is accessible by all to connect and share their true feelings and experiences, while protecting employee anonymity. This is also a time for inclusive leaders to admit if they commit a faux-pas in their communications, or if they are not sure of what to say! It’s OK to say “I’m sorry, didn’t intend it that way,” or “Can you tell me more,” and “Thank you for making me aware of how I may have come across, so I can learn and do better.” This is a time when authentic communications are not just recommended, but required. Leaders who are inexperienced or uncomfortable with this can reach out to their mentors and colleagues for help or hire an experienced coach to guide them.

Create Accountability.

While statements made by leaders are great, they do not create accountability or action on their own. As Sandy Harvey, Chief Human Resources strategist and founder of Exodus Consulting Group put it: "There has to be intentionality behind company statements, in ways that can be quantified and shared. I struggle with statements by leaders that have good intentions, but for example have not shared their numbers regarding the diversity of their organization." HR expert and one of our most senior D&I Managers at OurOffice, Catherine Gillings, added: "Ask them what they measure, because what gets measured, gets improved. And then, ask them who is responsible to drive action to make improvements and close the key gaps."

Embrace and Model Inclusive Behaviors, Every Day.

We all know that actions speak louder than words. A leader’s behavior not only sets the tone, but is often modeled in ways and to an extent that they may not realize themselves. The key is to question our own behaviors and examine how we can improve on a daily basis. This is very hard to do as many of our behaviors and reactions are automatic and unconscious, and have often been widely accepted for a long time.

HR executive Mike Kohn gave a great example when he shared an experience where the willingness to call out bad behavior was critical. Leaders who are inclusive, not only do this themselves, they demand that others do the same across the organization. As Mike added, we agree that “If we are not willing to have tough conversations, the rest is meaningless.” This prompted Sandy Harvey to add: "Can we implement the ‘See Something, Say Something’ model (originally designed to enhance national security) in the workplace to make things more equitable and inclusive?"
Inclusive leadership is a hot topic. As solutions continue to emerge, we will undoubtedly return to this topic and share more ideas and success stories with our community. If you are an HR, workplace culture, or D&I expert who is considering new solutions, please drop us a note at team@ouroffice.io. You can also stay ahead of the curve by applying to join the “Future of Work” Mastermind Community at https://www.ouroffice.io/future-of-work/