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The Key to Great Leadership: Inclusivity

Published Wed Jan 27 2021


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An inclusive environment is essential, but do leaders know how to create one? It’s questionable because a lot of companies struggle to reach their diversity goals and are unable to determine what is holding back their efforts.

One problem is that companies want to quickly make changes. Goals are a good thing, and diversity efforts are long overdue, but company leaders need to recognize that a cultural transformation must take place for diversity to thrive in an organization. Otherwise, companies become a revolving door. You can hire diverse talent all you want, but if leaders don’t know how to create an inclusive environment, people will leave.

That phenomenon plays out clearly in the data. In DDI’s Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020, data reveals that women and people of color were earning more promotions than ever. At the same time, they were also much more likely to say they would need to switch companies to advance. And they aren’t waiting around to do it. They were nearly twice as likely as their white peers to say they intended to leave in the next year, especially at higher levels.

In the report, the best companies to work for rate 75 percent higher for inclusion. DDI found that a diverse, fair, and inclusive culture played a dramatic difference. When leaders acquire those skills, it makes a huge difference, especially when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

There’s no easy fix that will immediately solve the problem. But what’s important is that companies begin that forward motion that will sustain success. One of the keys to doing that is teaching your leaders how to create an inclusive environment.

Great Leadership Is Inclusive Leadership

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is divorcing inclusion training from the rest of their leadership development goals. As a result, inclusion seems like something extra—an add-on that’s not a part of leaders’ daily work.

But that’s the opposite of reality. Leaders don’t practice inclusion separate from everything else they do. Rather, inclusion must be woven into how they operate. It must be part of the way they communicate, interact, run meetings, give assignments, and so on, every day.

DDI’s research showed that companies rated as a Best Places to Work scored 75 percent higher for having an inclusive culture. Why? Because leaders who know how to create an inclusive environment create a better work environment for everyone regardless of their background.

In fact, there’s no such thing as a great leader who isn’t an inclusive leader. Quite simply, great leadership is inclusive leadership.

For more information on becoming an inclusive leader, including seven inclusive leadership skills every leader needs, visit DDI’s blog.

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