"When you do learn these things, when you understand what inclusion is, then we can accomplish greater things together."
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, inclusion is "the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization's success."
When we have inclusion in a business, the diverse needs of employees are acknowledged, valued, and respected. This leads to higher employee retention and a more positive workplace.
Your role as a leader involves more than caring about the bottom line. Here are five steps you should take in order to become a more inclusive leader.
1. Lead the conversation.
In a meeting, at an event, or any employee space, invite different perspectives to contribute to the conversation. According to research by McKinsey & Co., when ideas from employees are heard, they are "more motivated to come together and outperform most other teams by 35 percent."
2. Foster a safe space.
An inclusive boss leads an environment where all workers feel safe enough to give real feedback. Let your employees know that you welcome all comments and critiques. This is especially important if employees see and need to call out behaviors that are not inclusionary.
3. Hire a diverse and inclusive team.
During employee recruitment, work to uncover and avoid any bias during the hiring process. The insights and perspectives of a diverse and inclusive workforce will best reflect diverse marketplace demographics. This leads to a major competitive advantage for your company, whether it operates on a local or global scale.
4. Understand your own advantages.
How much access and privilege we gain in the world around us can be heavily influenced by our race, gender, sexual orientation, religious practices, physical ability, and more. An inclusive leader knows how to recognize their own advantages in order to recognize the disadvantages of others--this can create a more thoughtful and understanding leader who appreciates various employee perspectives and approaches.
5. Make inclusion part of your lifestyle.
Being inclusive doesn't stop once you leave the office. Understand that becoming better at being inclusive will ask that you practice inclusion in all situations. Practice networking and making positive interactions in all of your interactions with others.
Inclusive organizations are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, and are more likely to be innovative, agile, and high performing. Not a bad place to be.