Perspectives on Inclusive Leadership

What comes to mind when you think of inclusive leadership within the workplace? If you have been reading my work or watching my videos, you know that I think inclusion starts with active listening.  My latest book is dedicated to clarifying and simplifying this topic. When I think of inclusion, I also think of allowing someone to be at a decision-making table so that they have a say in what work looks like. How often do you reflect on who is around your decision-making table, and what is their lived experience? With these considerations, we also need to be reflecting on the words that we use. Do the words we use when communicating with others draw them in or implicitly push them out? I am referring to microaggressions. These are the daily slights by those in the mainstream against those in marginalized groups. They are referred to as “death by a thousand cuts”, because, despite what they were taught as children, words can hurt you. We all have the ability to strive for better in these areas.   

Now that I have presented a few of my thoughts, now let’s look at a couple of other experts in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging space. They all focus on different aspects of Diversity and Inclusion...  

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is the Founder of Jennifer Brown Consulting, a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultancy. Jennifer literally wrote “THE” book on Inclusive Leadership. From her website, Jennifer believes that “The leaders who intentionally move from certainty to authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability will build a culture where people are welcomed, valued, and heard.” She uses this as a motto when she speaks to different groups of people and interacts with her team and individuals daily.  Jennifer also speaks a lot about building higher levels of connection within teams and the importance of listening and creating safer spaces for people to engage in open conversations. I think her work is brilliant and pairs well with what we do at Employee Fanatix on Creating Cultures of Listening. 

On a personal note, I highly respect Jennifer’s work and just her as a person. She has stayed true to her focus on creating inclusive cultures. I consider her a friend. 

Verna Myers

Verna Myers is the founder of The Verna Myers Company, a DEI consulting company that focuses on building “upon the unique strengths and differences that people bring to the workplace.” Verna penned the phrase,  “Diversity is being invited to a party, inclusion is being asked to dance.” I use this phrase crediting her because I think it perfectly and easily helps us see that, while diversity and representation are critical, inclusion gives people a purpose and starts to provide a place. Without inclusion, differences are highlighted, but gifts are not amplified.  

This journey to inclusive leadership is not a cookie-cutter or “one-size-fits-all” approach. You can see from above that we all have different perspectives, but I am sure we can all agree that this is a long journey. If we see being a more inclusive leader as a slow and worthwhile process, we know that we cannot rush it, and we need to celebrate small victories along the way. This is not a “check-the-box” conversation. This work changes workplaces for the better. Let us know if you need a guide along the way. 

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