Want to Create an Inclusive Environment? That’s Up to Leaders

A lot of companies have inclusion goals, but do their leaders know how to create an inclusive environment?

Diversity and inclusion have never been more important than they are right now. A lot of companies have goals to create a more inclusive environment, but do leaders really know how to do that?

It’s common to find companies struggling to reach their diversity goals. And it’s hard to pinpoint where they’re going wrong.

Part of the problem is that companies want to make change quickly.

But company leaders need to recognize that a cultural transformation must take place for diversity to thrive in your organization. Otherwise, companies become a revolving door. A company can hire as much diverse talent as possible, but if leaders don’t know how to create an inclusive environment, people will head straight for the door.

That phenomenon plays out clearly in the data. DDI’s Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020 found that women and minorities 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. In fact, they were nearly twice as likely as their non-minority peers to say they intended to leave in the next year, especially at higher levels.

The report also found the best companies to work for rate 75 percent higher for inclusion. DDI found that a diverse, fair, and inclusive culture makes 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 solve the problem immediately. But what’s important is that companies create forward motion that will sustain success. One of the keys to doing that is teaching 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 really a part of leaders’ daily work.

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, etc., every single day.

Why do companies rated as “Best Places to Work” score 75 percent higher for having an inclusive culture? Because leaders who know how to create a constantly inclusive environment create a better work environment for everyone, regardless of background.

Quite simply, great leadership is inclusive leadership.

Want to know what skills are critical for creating an inclusive environment? Read “How to Create an Inclusive Environment: 7 Skills Every Leader Needs.”

Meagan Aaron is a managing consultant for DDI’s US Operations where she started 24 years ago as an intern. When she’s not leading account teams or coaching executives, Meagan can be found designing flower creations for weddings or the home. Living in Memphis has provided her a community to apply her gifts and talents by coaching women business owners and upskilling leaders at nonprofits like the Memphis Metro YMCA.



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DDI is a global leadership company that helps organizations transform the way they hire, promote and develop leaders at every level. www.ddiworld.com