Five Traits Inclusive Leaders Must Adopt to Implement DEI Successfully

Most companies hire minorities at entry-level positions to build a diverse workforce. But, to commit to implementing DEI initiatives, the diversity in an organization needs to extend across all levels, including leadership. With inclusive hiring and management strategies becoming a rising trend, organizations should prioritize inclusive leadership. Only then will employees feel confident about their growth prospects, job security and personal safety in the workplace.

To foster a culture of inclusion, the leadership needs to embrace the uniqueness of every employee, irrespective of gender, customs, beliefs, or religion, as only then will workers feel valued and secure, leading to contributing their best to the organization’s growth and success.

Address unconscious bias

A leader’s responsibility lies in devising and enforcing diversity policies that remove biases in the decision-making process, whether during hiring, performance reviews, or promotions. Therefore, the first step should be to be aware of and acknowledge their own biases to ensure they don’t creep into their decisions. Everyone is human, and even the most progressive leaders have unconscious biases that could result in them favoring or prejudging employees with different ethnicities, cultural traits, or beliefs than their own. Being aware of these biases and changing hiring or review processes, or getting advice from other leaders can help mitigate unconscious biases from the decision-making process.

Develop cultural intelligence

An inclusive leader should be aware of cultural differences and act with sensitivity when interacting with employees or clients from different cultures. Moreover, they need to understand cultural beliefs and values to prevent stereotypes from influencing decision making. By understanding and accepting cultural differences, a leader can create an inclusive environment where employees feel a sense of belonging and confidence to voice their opinions or contribute to discussions.

Be open-minded and curious

Inclusive leaders should be curious to examine different perspectives and acknowledge the effect of culture and beliefs in forming different viewpoints. They need to open their minds and embrace new ideas that stem from experiences and beliefs significantly different from their own. Their open-mindedness and acceptance will encourage and inspire peers and employees to empathize with coworkers and follow in their leader’s footsteps to learn and accept different worldviews, making the workplace more inclusive.

Be humble

An inclusive leader must be willing to ask for open feedback about their performance and be humble enough to acknowledge the weaknesses pointed out by employees. The leader’s willingness to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them will make employees feel more comfortable sharing feedback and suggestions, creating a positive environment that fosters an inclusive culture. A leader who is unwilling to accept his limitations and is overconfident about his abilities can prove detrimental to the organization’s inclusion initiatives.

Lead by example

It’s not enough for leaders to be accountable for implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives. They need to demonstrate their commitment towards fostering an inclusive culture by embracing different viewpoints and encouraging employees to share ideas and contribute to discussions without fear of bias, discrimination, or harassment. An employee will feel empowered to innovate and perform at his best when he feels secure and in an environment where the leadership is committed to fostering an inclusive culture.

When the organization’s diversity and inclusion policies are unclear, it’s up to the leaders to drive the much-needed change. Since the success of a business depends on innovation and performance, employee-dependent, inclusive leadership plays a significant role in creating an environment where employees feel valued and thrive. Therefore, it’s in a company’s best interests to extend its diversity initiatives beyond entry-level recruitment and hire inclusive leaders with the required traits to make a difference.

About Diverseek

At Diverseek, we help our clients take the first step towards building a more diverse workforce. We use a combination of data-driven insights, expert-led evaluations, and assessments by our dedicated team to improve the hiring experiences and outcomes.