Date: April 28, 2023

3 Easy steps – Using inclusive leadership to help women advance to the c-suite

You may be thinking, “Everywhere you turn, inclusive leadership this…..inclusive leadership that. If inclusive leadership is so great and if it is something that can help my company be competitive, retain the best talent, successfully encompass multiple generations, and more, why am I SOOOOO STRESSEDDD OUTTTT!!!!!!!”

One reason why you may be feeling overwhelmed is because you feel the pressure of creating an inclusive leadership NOW or are trying to do everything all at once. If you try to please everyone, you will wind up pleasing no one. So, let’s start by pleasing you. The best way to be effective with your inclusive leadership initiative is to take one section at a time.

The best way to be effective with your inclusive leadership initiative is to take one section at a time.

Let’s start here. As companies continue to strive for a more diverse and inclusive workforce, it is important to recognize the importance of inclusive leadership and inclusive leadership programs. Gender inequality has been a longstanding issue in the workplace, particularly in regards to leadership positions. While there has been progress made in recent years, there is still a long way to go to ensure that women are not just present but are also represented in c-suite executive and leadership roles. In other words, we want women to be heard AND seen in the c-suite.

Leaders who practice inclusive leadership encourage and acknowledge everyone\’s contributions to the organization\’s success. This is particularly relevant when it comes to advancing women in leadership positions. Women have historically faced challenges in receiving recognition for their contributions to organizations and have been excluded from a number of leadership opportunities. Inclusive leadership practices can help to eliminate disparities in the representation of women in leadership positions by creating a work environment that values and supports diverse perspectives and experiences.

As a woman of color, when I see the rhetoric of lovely statements such as, “Inclusive leadership is the practice of creating a work environment where people feel valued and respected for who they are, regardless of their race, gender, religion, age or any other characteristic”. Even though I read this, I rarely felt this because I knew that this was only said at the surface level.

Leaders – If you really want to make change, you have to legitimately walk the talk.

For those who speak the language of 💰, this is for you…….

There is a business case to be made for advancing women into leadership positions. A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that companies with women in leadership positions had a higher return on equity and better overall performance. A workforce that is inclusive and diverse has a wider range of ideas and perspectives, which improves problem-solving and decision-making. Furthermore, companies with more women in leadership roles are known to have a workplace culture that is more supportive and empathetic, leading to better retention of employees. (This environment is catnip for Gen Z!) 🤓

A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that companies with women in leadership positions had a higher return on equity and better overall performance.

As previously noted, it is essential for female leaders to be visible in the c-suite. Show your female employees that you are providing them with more opportunities to demonstrate their strengths, their contributions and their capacity to lead. (Yup, that’s right!! Calling all leaders!!) Understand that it\’s about providing opportunities where women can demonstrate their leadership abilities just as their male counterparts do.

Organizational change happens from the top, but the process of creating an inclusive culture must begin at the lower levels of an organization. Below are three steps that can help employees engage in inclusive leadership practices.

  1. Offer training opportunities

Inclusive leadership practices require individuals to develop self-awareness and understand the biases that exist in their decision-making processes. Offering training opportunities on inclusive leadership can help employees develop the necessary skills to better understand how they can support diversity and inclusivity. Including workshops and training sessions during orientation, onboarding, and throughout employees\’ time at the company, can make the biggest impact.

  1. Increase diversity at all levels

In order to create a better representation of the organization\’s employees, it is important to increase diversity at all levels such as hiring, promotions to leadership positions and committees to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute their unique perspective. This is where you show everyone that you are more than just talk.

  1. Encourage open and transparent communication

Encouraging open and transparent communication that allows individuals to provide feedback and discuss their experiences can create a forum for healthy conversations. This opens up the door for individuals to discuss any concerns that they may have, such as unconscious bias and micro-aggressions, which can then be addressed to prevent further incidents from occurring. This also helps you to build trust amongst your employees. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see a large rush of women employees looking for your help. They have many years of those in leadership disappointing them day after day, year after year. Be patient with them and EARN their trust.

Integrating diverse leadership is good for business, innovation and creativity, and for providing a positive work environment overall.

If you need help to make inclusive leadership a part of your organizational culture, contact American Management and Leadership by Design for a custom inclusive leadership plan that is tailored to your organization’s needs.

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