Five Traits Inclusive Leaders Must Adopt to Implement DEI Successfully

Companies that claim they’re building diverse workforces but only hire at entry-level demonstrate a flagrant lack of commitment to implementing DEI initiatives: Diversity in an organization must extend across all levels, including leadership. With inclusive hiring and management strategies trending, organizations should prioritize inclusivity. 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 enough to actively contribute their best efforts to the organization’s growth and success.

Address unconscious bias

Leaders are tasked with devising and enforcing diversity policies that remove bias in the decision-making process—during hiring, performance reviews, or promotions. Therefore, the first step should be to acknowledge their biases to ensure that none of them creep into their decisions. We’re only human, and even the most progressive leaders have unconscious biases that could result in them favoring or prejudicing employees from different ethnicities with cultural traits or beliefs that differ from their own. Awareness of these biases and adapting hiring or reviewing processes or getting advice from other leaders can mitigate unconscious biases in the decision-making process.

Develop cultural intelligence

Inclusive leaders should be sensitive when interacting with employees or clients from different cultures. They must also be familiar with cultural beliefs and values and be able to prevent stereotypes from influencing decision-making. By understanding and accepting cultural differences, leaders 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 want to examine different perspectives and acknowledge the effect of culture and beliefs in forming different views. They must 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 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 humble enough to acknowledge the weaknesses employees point out. The leader’s willingness to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them will make employees feel easier about sharing feedback and suggestions, creating a positive environment that fosters an inclusive culture. Leaders unwilling to accept their limitations and overconfident about their abilities can prove detrimental to the organization’s inclusion initiatives.

Lead by example

Employees will feel empowered to innovate and perform at their best when they feel secure in an environment where the leadership is committed to fostering an inclusive culture.

When an organization’s diversity and inclusion policies are unclear, it’s up to leaders to drive the much-needed change. Since the success of a business depends on innovation and performance, employee-dependent, inclusive leadership plays a crucial role in creating an environment where employees feel valued and able to 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 traits required to make a difference.


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