4 Leadership Strategies to Drive Diversity & Inclusion

In this series, we explore strategies that will elevate your organisation’s diversity and inclusion position. Here we take a look at methods senior leaders can adopt to drive forward powerful D&I initiatives.

In this series, we explore strategies that will elevate yourorganisation’s diversity and inclusion position. Here we take alook at methods senior leaders can adopt to drive forward powerfulD&I initiatives.

''Data shows that companies with ethnically diverse executive teams are70% more likely to capture new markets than their less-diverse peers andgenerate 38% more in revenue from innovative products and services.''1 Organisations are continuing to wake up to the profound effectsimplementing effective D&I strategies can have, supported by a wealth ofdata collected over the past two decades.

Strong leadership in D&I is still the spark that helps illuminate goodD&I positions. How, as a senior leader in an organisation, can you be adriving force to help make these positive changes? Good strategies arealways led from the top down, and the way a leader behaves will permeatethrough the rest of the organisation and reflect in your company culture.Here we take a look at four powerful strategies you can adopt to drive andinspire D&I in your organisation.

Inspire through visibility

Visibility is arguably the most important asset for a leader to uphold whendriving D&I change. You are responsible for setting the tone of theinitiatives, and to inspire employees to uphold the same values you espouse.The age-old adage of leading by example is more important here than ever.Being serious about D&I initiatives means ensuring it becomes part ofthe main agenda for team and leadership meetings. Making it a personalpriority will demonstrate to all stakeholders that it’s a matter to betaken seriously, and others will follow suit.

On a practical level, this could involve holding weekly seminars on theissue, or contributing pieces to a monthly newsletter that clearlycommunicate the steps you are taking to ensure your organisation is setting,and working towards, its diversity and inclusion goals. You must promotethese initiatives and take them from being ideas on paper to an evolving,integral part of your company culture.

Set goals to work towards

To breathe life into the values of an organisation's D&I culture, aleader must set goals to work towards. They should reflect when buildingteams and recruitment processes, growing markets and understandingcustomers, and enhancing team performance to drive innovation. What getsmeasured within an organisation, can get analysed and improved on withgreater ease.

You should also not be afraid to tie the financial goals of yourorganisation to your D&I strategies. Whilst D&I initiatives shouldbe introduced for their greater societal and organisational benefits, theirsuccessful implementation will yield better financial results.

Evaluate your goals. Understand how your efforts to increase D&I in yourorganisation are working and figure out the ways in which they are not.Which aspects are receiving a lot of attention? What’s missing thatyou had hoped to see more of? Are you hearing about a lack of resources? Areyour employees searching for more ways to help but aren’t sure how?Use the data you collect to show you in the direction your D&I effortsneed to go.

Importantly, it’s also vital to share these D&I goals clearlywithin the organisation. As well as leaders visibly implementing thesevalues, all stakeholders should also understand and have access to them inorder to promote them fully.

Preparation is imperative

D&I is a long-term strategy and should be treated that way. Greatpreparation therefore is imperative. This requires not only preparingyourself to set out D&I targets but ensuring your employees and othersenior leadership are prepared to work towards these goals. Training yourmanagers to increase their leadership competence and understanding of theD&I initiatives is a great way to ensure you can take them company wide,and not confine the goals to a small group within the organisation.

As a leader you should avoid making reactionary decisions, as its lesslikely to help you achieve your D&I goals. Get together with your otherleadership teams and discuss strategies and approaches to formulate acoherent path forward, evaluating goals along the way. Workplaces whereD&I thrive don’t emerge overnight, they take time to nurture, andgrow from an idea into a vital aspect of company culture.

Demonstrate empathy

Leading by example to drive D&I requires empathy. By demonstratinghumility and empathy, you’ll encourage feedback from your employees.Listening to you employees concerns, hopes and ideas, shows that you taketheir perspectives seriously - a cornerstone of every successful inclusionstrategy. Building this personal connection will make it easier to implementshared decisions, and as a result, for people to get behind and believe inthem.

A strategy for ensuring you can hear more voices within your organisation,is to establish a diverse personal advisory board (PAD). This group, ortaskforce can help collect feedback and ideas from a larger body ofemployees and be trusted to give direct information back to you as a leader.It can be a chance to evaluate your own performance as a leader, and howyour actions to implement a powerful D&I strategy are perceived.

Empathy can be cultivated by getting a taste of more aspects andperspectives within your company. Sit in on meetings within differentdepartments that you may not usually go to in order to understand how theseteams operate. Expanding your horizons and trying to disrupt preconceivedideas you may have had will not only help you become more empathetic, butmake it clearly visible for your employees to see you are approachable andare serious about inclusivity.