The essence of diversity and multidimensional approach to problem solving cannot be overemphasized. In corporate management, having a heterogeneous team that draws its strength across different social categorizations including gender, culture, religion, class or race is highly desired to have a well rounded perspective and develop solution that can significantly impact lives.
It is therefore not surprising that some companies have begun to look beyond competency and personality-based test to include diversity and inclusion tests in their recruitment process, especially when selecting their strategic leaders. It is believed that an organisation with an inclusive management structure is able to better organise and direct its mixed human resources for greater efficiency.
What is Inclusive Leadership and why is it important for organizational growth?
Juliet Bourke, a Professor at the School of Management and Governance, UNSW Business School and Andrea Titus, Human Capital Consultant at Deloitte Australia and scholar at Macque University make a case for inclusive leadership for organisational growth in their article, ‘’Why inclusive leaders are good for organisations, and how to become one’’, published on the Harvard Business Review’s site.
The authors define Inclusive leadership as a type of leadership that assures that team members feel they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and sense they belong, and are confident and inspired.
‘’Companies increasingly rely on diverse multidisciplinary teams that combine the collective capabilities of women and men, people of different cultural heritage, and younger and older workers. But simply throwing a mix of people together doesn’t guarantee high performance; it requires inclusive leadership’’ the authors note.
The researchers report that inclusive leadership directly enhances performance;
“team with inclusive leaders are 17 percent more likely to report that they are high performing; 20 percent more likely to say they make high-quality decisions and 29 percent more likely to report behaving collaboratively”.
They also found that a 10 percent improvement in perception of inclusion increases work attendance by almost 1 day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.
Drawing from both secondary and primary sources which include academic literature on leadership and a survey of over 4,100 employees on their perception of inclusion supported with an interview of some leaders perceived as inclusive by their followers respectively, the researchers identified the six characteristics of an inclusive leader as follows:
- They are visibly committed to promoting diversity and challenging the status quo
- They avoid hubris by exhibiting open-mindedness and modest behaviours towards their subordinates and colleagues.
- They show empathy through curious sense of concern and deep connection for their followers
- They have high-level of cultural intelligence which enables them to adapt and easily get along with others
- They seek and promote effective collaboration at the work place
- They avoid heuristics and bias through critical thinking and promoting meritocracy.
Authors suggest three action points that leaders should implement in their journey to promote diversity and inclusiveness. These include:
- Being visible and vocal in their campaign and advocacy for inclusiveness and diversity.
- Deliberately seeking out the opportunities to implement their philosophies at social functions and work-related environments
- Constantly checking their impacts on people.