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November 11, 2019

Are you an Inclusive Leader?

Categories:  Leadership

A picture tells a thousand words: when employees think their organisation is highly committed to, and supportive of diversity, and they feel highly included, then they are 80% more likely to agree that they work in a high performing organisation…”
– Deloitte Research Report, Sydney Launch

Diversity and Inclusion. A very hot topic in 2019 according to Josh Bersin who also stated: “diversity and inclusion is a business strategy, not an HR program”. Thankfully, the focus on Diversity and Inclusion is significantly ramping up with most, if not all, of our customers. (See below for how your organization can get more involved)

First, we need definitions, but before we start, we note that research by Josh Bersin found that while over 70% of companies believe they are advanced in this area, only 11% truly understand the depth of the problem. (John Bersin, Business Strategy, Not an HR Program)

“Diversity: The term diversity is used to describe individual differences (e.g. life experiences, learning and working styles, personality types) and group/social differences (e.g. race, socio-economic status, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, ability, intellectual traditions and perspectives, as well as cultural, political, religious, and other affiliations) that can be engaged to achieve excellence...” (The George Washington University)

“Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values (University of California-Berkeley Center for Equity).”

What is inclusion?

“Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. An inclusive…[organization] promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members." (Ferris State University)

Inclusive corporate cultures make team members feel valued and respected for who they are and what talent they bring as individuals or teams.

We also got curious about why diversity AND inclusion. It seems they are so often joined and seem the same term; though very different meanings. Inclusion appears much more challenging to define. Verna Myers differentiates the terms as “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” It is much easier to notice the experience of exclusion rather than the experience of inclusion. More focus on inclusion than diversity is thought to deliver more business results and is the most challenging of the two.

In summary... In an increasingly complex world with a variety of perspectives, often at odds with each other, it’s important that we as leaders are able to: Appreciate Diversity, Be Inclusive and “stay in conversation” with and learn from all our employees and their diverse perspectives. We honestly believe this trait is essential to productive and healthy workplaces and we know it takes time and patience. Time well spent, though, as you can see below.

The results from a few studies on diversity and inclusion demonstrate why we all should care, according to a Clovepop Study:

  • Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time.
  • Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions 2X faster with 1/2 the meetings.
  • Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results.
  • Teams outperform individual decision-makers 66% of the time, and decision-making improves as team diversity increases.
    • For example, compared to individual decision makers, all-male teams make better business decisions 58% of the time, while gender diverse teams do so 73% of the time, while teams that also include a wide range of ages and different geographic locations make better business decisions 87% of the time.

In our next blog, we’ll explore six signature traits of inclusive leadership.

    Be inclusive!
    Lori and James

    James Jackman & Lori Heffelfinger
    310-543-7632 office


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