Diversity and Inclusion is a Leader's Responsibility
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
When you think about the main purpose of leadership in an organization, the leader is responsible for the people within the organization. Responsible for caring for them and to provide them value for their efforts, to motivate, to guide, teach, mentor, and most of all to create a work environment that is conducive to their wellbeing. A large part of that is creating a safe place for your employees to be their authentic selves.
It is well known that when an individual feels safe and taken care of that they are more productive and are more likely to be engaged at work. It is also well known that the best solutions to problems come from a diverse group, not a homogeneous group.
If we hold all of this to be true, then leaders owe it upon themselves to be the stewards for diversity and inclusion for the organization. Leaders need to understand that the culture created within the organization is strongly based on their actions and focus.
Recognizing the unconscious bias within
The issue that many leaders face is that they do not understand their own biases and have their own set of unconscious biases, meaning that the biases they have are so ingrained that they are hard to recognize. Unconscious bias is responsible for creating an environment within an organization that is not supportive of inclusion and diversity. Therefore, it is essential for leaders to have a good understanding of their biases.
The question is, “How does one become conscious of their unconscious bias?”
First, you must first accept that you have unconscious biases. If you don’t accept this fundamental fact, you will not be able to uncover them. Awareness that you have a bias is the first step.
Second, question the biases you see in your teams, people, and in yourself.
Are my views backed up by facts? Or are they just my opinions? Do I have evidence that this is true?
Is that view absolute? If it is, you should question it.
Third, be inclusive. This is important for all leaders to do. Asking people to join and contribute is essential to building a culture where people thrive.
You can do this by sitting next to a new person at each meeting, listening more than you speak, asking someone new for their opinion and thoughts, limiting technology usage in meetings, saying hello, and smiling at everyone that you meet or pass by.