Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: the Critical Role of Leadership Development

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are critical values for effective organizations and have been shown to have a positive impact in many ways:

      Create a workplace where people want to take part

      Improve talent attraction and engagement

      Increase customer satisfaction

      Stimulate innovation

      Business growth and performance

But, as we all know, creating an inclusive environment is not always easy and a crucial reason is the presence of unconscious bias in the workplace.

Unconscious bias is an attitude, belief or association that we don’t realize we have, which bring us to presume that certain attributes, characteristics or qualities belong to a particular group of people. It makes us jump to conclusions which could be incorrect. We could call it “stereotyping”.

Unconscious bias negatively impacts organizations because it:

      Hinders innovation that only different perspectives can bring

      Limits growth, profitability and progress

      Creates a rigid and unwelcoming culture

 

Promote Innovation and Inclusion through Psychological Safety

Improving respect in the workplace. also provides a host of other benefits such as:

1)      Increased  job satisfaction. In respectful workplaces employees are inclined to work harder and stay productive. This means they are more engaged and more committed to their jobs.

2)    Higher Collaboration. Creative solutions come out from collaborative meetings: when people feel mutually respected, relationships are more solid and ideas are shared. This shared information across all areas of the organization improves the workflow and improves knowledge sharing.

3)    Enhanced security. When it comes to sexual harassment for instance, a truly respectful workplace is more likely to avoid problems with such an inappropriate behavior.

4)    Reduced stress. A respected employee is free to perform without the fear of failure, gossip or ridicule.  They are free to bring their whole self to work.

5)    Improved bottom line. As mutual understanding and respect increase, teams will perform better and this will in turn increase company knowledge, innovation and productivity.

 

To prevent Unconscious Bias and reinforce the process of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a Psychologically Safe Environment needs to be promoted.

Psychological safety is a situation that allows you to speak up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes, without concern of being punished or humiliated. In short, it regards how comfortable individuals are with taking risks and being vulnerable.  

This is why it is a critical element for fostering inclusion and innovation and, beyond simply building a sense of inclusiveness, has real, measurable benefits such as:

      Healthier, more productive, and more inclusive teams

      Sense of reliability between people

      Clear roles, plans and goals within the team

      Intrinsic motivation to work hard

Leaders and Psychological Safety

Where does a climate conducive to psychological safety start?  At the very top of an organization, from the Leaders.

Leaders can build psychological safety by developing trust, creating the right climate, mindset and behaviors within their teams.

Surveys find that some leadership behaviors can, in fact, strengthen psychological safety. 

Leadership styles which are:

1)  Consultative: leaders consult their team members, solicit input and consider the team’s views on issues that affect them

2) Supportive: when leaders demonstrate concern and support for team members not only as employees but also as individuals

3) Challenging: encourages employees to do more than they initially think they can

Leadership has a strong impact on the creation of psychological safety and therefore, on the success of the company.

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