How to Become an Inclusive Manager

A company’s success is dependent on attracting and retaining a diverse pool of employees that can provide the necessary mix of talents, ideas, and life experiences. Companies now face increasing pressure to build an inclusive staff. However, diversity without inclusion does not achieve the company goal of having a diverse workforce who feel included within the company.

The Importance of Inclusive Management

A company adopting more inclusive management practices is one of the most important factors in making the company a welcoming workplace for all employees. This is because employees view managers as the representation of the company. Managers oversee groups, act as a link to higher-ups, and play a critical part in whether or not workers feel connected to their company.

According to the research highlighted in Harvard Business Review, a more inclusive management style can have a positive impact on productivity. Leaders who foster an environment where everyone feels accepted report higher levels of team performance, decision quality, and collaboration.

Qualities to Adopt to Become an Inclusive Manager

  • Courage: Do you speak up and question the current state of affairs at the company when it comes to long-held views and practices that promote inclusivity? To be courageous, you must combine bravery and modesty. Managers that are inclusive can acknowledge their own flaws and learn from their shortcomings.
  • The Ability to Recognize and Deal with Bias: Do you actively seek to learn about your personal biases and learn how to keep them from distorting your judgement when making hiring decisions? Do you take steps to ensure that organizational prejudices do not stifle diversity and inclusion using policies, processes, and structure? Managers that practice inclusion are aware of the limitations of objectivity imposed by their own and their company’s prejudices.
  • Curiosity: Are you willing to have an open mind and eager to learn new things in order to reduce your biases? Do you use polite inquiry and attentive hearing? Managers that are inclusive avoid making snap decisions that hinder creativity. They bring together diverse concepts in a way that makes all employees feel heard, understood, and accepted.
  • Cultural Awareness: To what extent are you aware of the ways in which your cultural background shapes your outlook on the world? Do you realize that your assumptions about people are colored by your own culture? Managers that are inclusive can adapt to and thrive in a wide variety of cultural contexts. They are culturally authentic while also knowing when and how to adjust and adapt.
  • Collaboration: To what extent do you foster an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism? Managers give a lot of thought to the people that make up a team and the activities they engage in together.  Managers who actively encourage and support a wide range of perspectives recognize that a harmonious team is built on the strength of its members’ individual contributions.

Don’t Let These Unwanted Outcomes of Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Happen to You

Many managers intend to foster diverse teams and exhibit inclusive leadership styles as part of their company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. But in practice, goals and results don’t always line up. Companies suffer unexpected repercussions, such as underachieving employees and ineffective tactics, when diversity programs and inclusive leadership attempts go astray. When others in the company see these repercussions, trust decreases, the company culture degrades, and employees’ sense of psychological safety in the workplace decreases.

When efforts at inclusion fall short, negative outcomes can occur. Managers should aim to prevent the following outcomes by keeping the following points in mind:

  • Stay away from empty gestures: When businesses claim they value diversity yet only hire a handful of people from marginalized groups, they are engaging in a practice known as “tokenism.” As a “bare minimum” for diversity and inclusion, some companies may only hire one person of color, one woman, or one member of the LGBTQ community for each team or department. Without genuine representation, businesses fail to reap the benefits of variety of thought, experience, and approach. And people from underrepresented groups may feel uncomfortable or exploited if they think they’re only being considered to fill quotas.
  • Keep employees from Blending In: Minority employees are more inclined to try to blend in if they perceive that their culture is not the majority culture at work. In other words, in order to blend in with the group, they adopt its norms and practices. However, if workers attempt to blend in, they can lose some of the valuable perspectives they bring to the table. Leaders who want their teams to reach their maximum potential must be able to truly collaborate, which requires them to comprehend and consider their members’ varied life experiences. To do so, you must first recognize the influence of your personal and social history on your leadership style.
  • Stay away from anything that could dehumanize employees: Individuals may be hired or recruited as part of a company’s efforts to increase diversity, only to be treated differently from their peers once they arrive. This is a very common mistake, and it can have devastating effects to the company culture. Avoid this mistake by centering your diversity and inclusion efforts first on promoting fairness.