Leadership teams come in all shapes and sizes, some are collaborative, and some are not. What matters most is that they are effective and representative of the company’s values. There is a lot of research out there that looks at what makes a good leadership team, and there is one characteristic that keeps coming up. A leadership team that is DIVERSE and INCLUSIVE better understands and serves its customers, employees, and stakeholders, which in turn leads to better business performance.
But how do you go about building a leadership team that is both diverse and inclusive? Here are a few tips:
Start with inclusion in mind
Inclusion is not just about ticking boxes or meeting quotas. It’s about creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and able to contribute. This starts with the recruitment process. When you’re looking for new leaders, be sure to cast a wide net and look for candidates from all backgrounds and walks of life. Ensure that as a hiring manager you are aware of your own unconscious biases and evaluate the recruitment process to ensure that it does not unintentionally discriminate against specific groups.
Promote diversity of thought
A leadership team that is diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. is more likely to have different viewpoints and ideas. This can lead to more innovative solutions and a better understanding of your customers’ needs. Having a team of leaders who bring different strengths to the table will ensure you have a well-rounded approach to strategic planning and tactical implementation.
Encourage open dialogue
For a diversity and inclusion initiative to be successful, it’s important to have an open dialogue among leaders about both the good and the bad. Leaders need to feel safe speaking up about their experiences and perspectives, without fear of retribution. Encourage formal and informal channels of feedback such as fireside chats, employee resource groups and pulse surveys to check the temperature within the leadership team and organizations, identify barriers and overcome them in a timely fashion.
Make room for growth
A leadership team that is constantly evolving can better reflect the company’s changing demographics and needs. Encourage leaders to take on new challenges and roles and give them the tools they need to succeed through training and coaching. Build a talent plan that identifies your next set of leaders, invests in their development, and builds their confidence to take on new opportunities within the organization.
Use data to inform
Audit your organization to assess your current people practices. Identify a set of metrics based on your vision for diversity in your leadership team. Data will show you how you are progressing with your goals of building a diverse leadership team in the long term and is a valuable assessment of progress.
Building a diverse and inclusive leadership team takes time and effort, but the payback makes it well worth it in the end. By following these tips, you can create a team that is not only diverse but also innovative and high performing.