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Inclusive leadership inspires diversity of thought

04 Mar 2024

‘Inspire inclusion’ is the theme of 2024’s International Women’s Day campaign. But how do we inspire inclusion? For a business, inclusion is a tangible benefit. From the boardroom to the most recent hire, it’s something we should encourage, promote and curate.

Inspiring the next generation of leaders

To really inspire inclusivity, we need to ensure we have an executive board that represents our employees. Companies need to nurture, develop and promote inclusive working environments in order to succeed. We’ve discussed before how diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) benefits business performance and innovation, but what about individual performance of our employees?

Qualtrics’ 2021 Employee Experience Trends Report examined how a key driver for belonging at work came from the top. Leaders play an influential role in championing people and positively impacting culture.

Diverse, inclusive leadership empowers employees of all levels that they can bring their authentic self to work. We see a similar image in media: if people don’t see representation, they don’t feel part of the conversation.

We need to consider our responsibility as leaders too – we’re responsible, directly or indirectly, for the future of a business and the next generation of leaders.

Inspiring diversity, equity and inclusion

Which brings us onto the next point: how do we communicate diversity, equity and inclusion to our business?

Simply being an inclusive leader isn’t enough. Korn Ferry found that 40% of the competencies and traits that define inclusive leadership are the same as those which define self-disruptive leaders. Therefore, we need to take our inclusive leadership and apply it across the business to promote open discussions of equitable opportunities, learning and development.

Inclusive leadership is giving our employees the opportunity to empower themselves. It’s about allowing people to bring their whole selves to work, without judgement or discrimination, but with active encouragement. It’s also about flexibility and harnessing the EQ of our people.

When leaders offer this support, we can see the results in commercial performance.

Inspiring innovative thinking

Research shows when people are engaged in their work, a company is more likely to achieve its goals. What’s more, inspiring inclusive leadership can foster a culture of innovation.

A report by Deloitte splits the benefits of inclusive leadership into four business categories: diversity of markets, diversity of customers, diversity of ideas and diversity of talent. All four of these areas will see great change within the next decade as we adjust to rapid technological advancements and changes in how we work.

Supporting innovation through diversity now puts businesses ahead of this inevitable change. In Gartner’s recent HR report, they described inclusion as a competitive necessary. If inclusive leadership is the driver of future success, then we need to nurture it across the whole business now, so we can accurately measure success and examine areas we need to improve.

Inclusion is inspiring

Business leaders have a social responsibility to be inclusive and promote inclusivity. It’s also important for leaders to accept what and how they need to improve. Change is inevitable and oftentimes inspires innovation. Our leadership and approach to business should reflect and embrace change so we can succeed together and empower the people we represent.

Why do we need gender equity, not just equality? Read Emma Crabtree’s 2023 International Women’s Day article here.

Working with IQ-EQ has been seamless – you and your team understand our business, advise us appropriately, and handle your side of our collective partnership so that we can focus on making good investment decisions. Evan Gibson SVP, Merchants Capital

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