Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is finally getting the attention it deserves. Yet, that doesn’t mean that leaders are achieving more diverse, equitable, or inclusive work environments. In fact, many of them don’t know how to go about building that kind of workplace.
In this post, we’ll look at what it takes to build a truly inclusive environment and how you can put one into place at your company.
In this LinkedIn post, HR leader Lori Golden writes, “Inclusive environments are a product of healthy cultures and humble servant leadership. Diverse teams are a product of inclusive environments.”
She goes on to say, “The only effective diversity ‘program’ is having a company full of humble servant leaders who genuinely value being challenged.” Golden ends the post with, “Real DEI is organic and cannot be strategized. If you’re building DEI programs, go back to square one and evaluate your leadership.”
Let’s break down some of the things Golden talks about in her post.
The concept of servant leadership flips the model of traditional leadership on its head. In the hierarchy of servant leadership, employees are at the top, with leaders serving them. Leaders who embrace this mindset focus on empowering and uplifting their employees.
A diverse team means that it’s made up of people of different ages, backgrounds, geographies, cultures, physical abilities and disabilities, religions, genders, and sexual orientations. An inclusive environment is one that treats all individuals fairly and respectfully and gives everyone equal access to opportunities and resources. In an inclusive environment, everyone contributes fully to the organization’s success.
Now that some of the terminology is clearer, let’s take a look at how servant leadership creates a more inclusive workplace.
Servant leaders understand the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Research from McKinsey shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Additionally, companies where there are more than three in ten female executives were more likely to outperform companies with fewer than 10-30% female executives.
Here’s why diverse and inclusive workplaces perform better: they allow everyone to contribute. People feel confident that they can do their best work, and that they’ll be valued for that, regardless of their backgrounds.
Servant leadership puts people first, and it emphasizes creating a workplace where everyone can flourish.
Golden concluded her LinkedIn post by saying you can’t strategize DEI, and she’s right. DEI has to happen organically, or it won’t happen at all.
DEI isn’t a check-box exercise – in fact, it’s not an exercise at all. When you want to foster an inclusive workplace, you shouldn’t be doing it because it’s a trend. You should be doing it because it’s the right thing to do, and because you’ll be a better organization as a result.
DEI, and by extension, an inclusive workplace, has to start at the top. You need leaders committed to making the shift to greater inclusivity, and servant leaders are the best positioned to do that because they prioritize the needs of their employees.
At GoCoach, we believe an inclusive work environment is crucial to growth. To learn more about how we can help with your DEI efforts, contact us.