Are our good intentions getting in the way of creating a genuinely inclusive workplace? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding Yes, and many of us contend with this problem. We felt drawn to commit to change before we were truly ready, so we jumped in with both feet. However, the inclusion asks continued, and we struggled to keep up with our commitments and were unsure how to proceed effectively. So, we moved along cautiously, hoping for the best. Here's what we need to realize.
Inclusive Leadership is not for the faint of heart and will require bold commitments from all genuinely engaged.
Inclusive Leadership will demand that we proceed, even with uncertainty. If we lean into caution that prevents us from taking action, we risk alienating those depending on us as advocates and allies for change.
Inclusive Leadership will demand a commitment of resources and dollars for actual gains.
Inclusive Leadership calls upon us to think of employees, vendors, and customers as priorities. We must consider all of our audiences for failing to do so will cause us to falter at being inclusive.
When vying for authenticity, we must ensure the dots are fully connected and operating well. If we don't, our efforts are in vain and can do more harm than good, sending us back to the drawing board.
Here's what we as inclusive leaders can do to set ourselves up for success.
Move From The Shallow End
How do we know we're in the shallow end of the pool? Some examples include shying away from discussions and acknowledging complex topics, being afraid to make a mistake, and lacking the ability to hold senior leaders accountable. Moving from the shallow end to the deep end requires courage. However, leaders who tackle those challenges head-on, no matter how clunky, will yield dividends in the long run. For example, Salesforce's Leadership supports access to abortions for their employees. In addition, they have created a trusted culture that has encouraged employees to boldly petition Leadership to discontinue the relationship with the National Rifle Association, given recent mass shootings.
Going The Extra Mile
When an organization invests boldly in training for diverse leaders but skimps on meeting the desires of trainees who desire more career acceleration, it falls short. The extra mile equates to amping up financial resources to provide leadership opportunities and create opportunities where there are gaps. In essence, over-betting on talent is prudent when walking the talk on inclusive declarations. Likewise, it falls short when an organization has a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion but fails to enforce accountability for those who knowingly or unknowingly thwart those strategies. The extra mile equates to making space to explore threats (i.e., managers who roadblock career acceleration, DEI Champions who stand in the way of allowing others access, lip service, etc.) head-on, no matter how dicey the situation. It also equates to elevating sponsorship access. General Motors is an example of a company going the extra mile by enforcing accountability for generating results to support the commitment to be the most inclusive company.
This article was originally published in Forbes.