How can you develop the right mix of talent, and create the environment and capabilities needed to face your challenges? How can you boost diversity?
If you have read my last two post (1)(2), you probably understand why this question is so important.
According to some studies, “diverse and inclusive organizations are 70% more likely to capture new markets and 36% more likely to outperform on profitability”. But it is not only about business results. What matters the most in these times is the capacity for innovation coming with the diversity. Innovation to face the actual challenges and succeed: the track towards adaptation and flexibility.
Therefore, we need to work in developing a more inclusive leadership to make this happen.
To activate diversity strength, you need inclusion
Despite what people usually think, diversity has many dimensions: values – attitudes, culture, moral, occupational – skills, work experiences and style, role or function, relational – habits, interests, sexual orientation, cognitive – communication style, mental abilities, extraversion/introversion, and physical – race, sex, age or physical abilities.
Many companies are trying to champion diversity, but the reality is that many groups are still underrepresented. To boost diversity, we need to understand what is preventing it to happen and making a conscious effort to avoid it.
There are some forces in the companies that impede the progress of diverse talent: organizational traditions, cultural norms, assumptions, or biases. These forces impact on the ability to recruit, retain and promote talent. Combating these forces requires commitment and inclusive leaders at every level of a company.
Let me tell you why I’m talking about inclusive leaders. Greater diversity does not automatically lead to better results or innovation. Diversity without inclusion is nothing. A company needs leaders who can well-managed diverse teams and have the skills to leverage the differences within the team.
How to become an inclusive leader
For many of us, becoming an inclusive leader requires an evolution of mindset. It is not only about skills or competencies: we need to think inclusively. That means giving voice and treating equally every person in the team, implying we avoid biases, assumptions and traditions. Hard work.
Talking about competencies, an inclusive leader needs to work first on developing an adaptative and growing mindset, leveraging the differences. This implies self-assurance to be confidence and optimistic and inquisitiveness, to explore differences with curiosity and empathy.
Also, they need to be flexible and able to tolerate ambiguity. Thus, a good emotional management is needed to keep composure and compassion. Last, but not least, they need to build trust, establishing a common ground for cooperation while being able to value different perspectives.
It takes time to boost diversity in a company, and leaders are a key part of that. It is not effortless but determinant to bring the organizations into the next level and its full potential.