Leadership & Personal Growth

Inclusive Leadership in action: What does it Look Like?

Inclusive leadership-A diverse group of professionals from different backgrounds working together collaboratively

What is Inclusive Leadership?

Inclusive leadership is a leadership approach that emphasizes creating an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are actively promoted. They are integrated into the organization’s culture and leadership practices. Inclusive leaders value diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and aim to leverage them in driving innovation, collaboration, and overall organizational success.

Why Has Inclusive Leadership Come into Play?

Inclusive leadership has gained prominence for several reasons:

  1. Changing Demographics: Societies and workplaces are becoming increasingly diverse. Recognizing and embracing this diversity is essential for organizations to remain competitive and relevant.
  2. Globalization: As organizations expand globally, they interact with individuals from various cultural backgrounds. Inclusive leadership is crucial for effective cross-cultural collaboration.
  3. Legal and Ethical Considerations: Laws and regulations regarding diversity and inclusion have become more stringent. Organizations must comply with these requirements and uphold ethical standards.
  4. Business Benefits: Research consistently shows that diverse and inclusive organizations outperform their peers in terms of innovation, employee engagement, and financial results.
  5. Talent Attraction and Retention: Inclusive organizations are more attractive to top talent, and they retain employees more effectively, reducing turnover costs.

How Do Organizations Ensure Inclusive Leadership?

Jennifer Brown shares proven strategies to empower members of your entire organization to utilize all of their talents and potential to drive positive organizational change and the future of work.

Organizations can promote inclusive leadership through several strategies:

  1. Leadership Training: Provide leadership training that focuses on building skills like self-awareness, empathy, open-mindedness, and proactive inclusion. Leaders should understand the impact of bias and discrimination.
  2. Diverse Leadership Teams: Ensure that leadership teams themselves are diverse, reflecting a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. Diverse leadership sets the tone for the organization.
  3. Clear DEI Policies: Establish clear diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and communicate them throughout the organization. These policies should address hiring, promotion, compensation, and workplace behavior.
  4. Inclusive Recruitment: Implement inclusive recruitment practices that focus on eliminating bias in hiring processes. This includes using diverse interview panels and evaluating candidates based on skills and qualifications, not stereotypes.
  5. Employee Resource Groups: Encourage and support the formation of employee resource groups (ERGs) or affinity groups to represent various demographic and identity groups. These groups can provide valuable insights and support.
  6. Regular DEI Assessments: Conduct regular diversity, equity, and inclusion assessments to measure progress, identify areas for improvement. Doing this holds leaders accountable.
  7. Mentoring and Sponsorship: Establish mentoring and sponsorship programs that connect diverse talent with influential leaders. When they walk together, employees and other leaders are able to advance in their careers.
  8. Inclusive Policies: Create inclusive workplace policies that accommodate different needs and backgrounds, such as flexible work arrangements and accessible facilities.
  9. Continuous Learning: Encourage a culture of continuous learning and growth where leaders and employees are encouraged to challenge their assumptions. This expands their understanding of diversity and inclusion.
  10. Recognition and Reward: Recognize and reward leaders who demonstrate inclusive leadership behaviors, reinforcing the organization’s commitment to DEI.

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The Significance of Inclusive Leadership:

Inclusive leadership goes beyond just acknowledging diversity. It actively promotes the participation and contribution of every individual, regardless of their background, identity, or perspective. It recognizes that diverse teams are more innovative, creative, and better equipped to tackle complex challenges.

Key Principles of Inclusive Leadership:

  1. Self-Awareness: Inclusive leaders start by examining their own biases and prejudices. They posses a deeper understanding of how such factors can impact their leadership style.
  2. Empathy: Empathy is at the heart of inclusive leadership. Leaders who can truly empathize with their team members create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued.
  3. Open-Mindedness: Inclusive leaders are open to different perspectives and ideas. They foster an environment where individuals are encouraged to speak up without fear of retribution.
  4. Proactive Inclusion: Inclusive leaders actively seek out diverse perspectives and encourage underrepresented voices to contribute.
  5. Accountability: Inclusive leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. They set measurable goals and regularly assess progress.

Benefits of Inclusive Leadership:

  1. Enhanced Innovation: Inclusive teams are more likely to generate innovative solutions due to their diverse perspectives and experiences.
  2. Improved Employee Engagement: When employees feel valued and included, they are more engaged, motivated, and loyal to the organization.
  3. Better Decision-Making: Inclusive leaders tap into the collective intelligence of their teams, leading to more well-rounded and informed decision-making processes.
  4. Attracting Top Talent: Organizations known for their inclusive culture are more appealing to a wide range of candidates. Hence, attracting top talent from diverse backgrounds.
  5. Enhanced Reputation: Embracing inclusive leadership enhances an organization’s reputation, positioning it as socially responsible and forward-thinking.

Implementing Inclusive Leadership:

To adopt inclusive leadership practices, organizations should invest in training and development programs. These help leaders and team members build the necessary skills. Additionally, creating policies and practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion is crucial.

Inclusive Leadership in action

A video showcasing inclusive leadership practices within an organization

Inclusive leadership in action looks like leaders actively fostering an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral components of the organizational culture. Here’s what it looks like in practice:

  1. Diverse Representation: Inclusive leadership ensures that leadership teams and decision-making bodies reflect a diverse range of backgrounds.
  2. Equal Opportunities: Leaders provide equal opportunities for career growth and advancement to all employees, regardless of their background or identity.
  3. Open and Inclusive Communication: Inclusive leaders actively seek and value input from employees at all levels. .
  4. Empathy and Understanding: Leaders demonstrate empathy by actively listening to employees’ experiences and challenges.
  5. Fair Policies and Practices: Inclusive leadership ensures that company policies, practices, and procedures are fair, unbiased, and free from discrimination.
  6. Promotion of Inclusivity: Leaders actively promote an inclusive culture by supporting and participating in diversity and inclusion initiatives.
  7. Inclusive Recruitment: Leaders champion inclusive recruitment practices, striving to eliminate bias and create a diverse workforce.
  8. Accountability: Inclusive leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable for creating and maintaining an inclusive workplace.
  9. Conflict Resolution: Leaders address conflicts and disagreements within the organization promptly and impartially.
  10. Mentoring and Sponsorship: Inclusive leadership involves mentoring and sponsoring individuals from underrepresented groups to help them advance in their careers.
  11. Recognition of Differences: Leaders celebrate and appreciate the unique contributions and perspectives that each employee brings to the organization.
  12. Continuous Learning: Inclusive leaders prioritize continuous learning and self-improvement to challenge their own biases.
  13. Transparency: Leaders communicate openly about the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, sharing progress, successes, and challenges with employees.


In essence, inclusive leadership is about actively cultivating a culture where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered. This allows them to contribute their best, regardless of their background or identity. It involves a commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion at all levels of an organization. Ultimately, leading to greater innovation, employee satisfaction, and organizational success.

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