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Inclusivity in the Workplace Q3 2023

Inclusive leadership: the key to workplace inclusion and business success

Business woman doing presentation in meeting at work
Business woman doing presentation in meeting at work
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Addison Barnett

Director of Impact and Major Programmes, Inclusive Employers

National Inclusion Week (25 September – 1 October) is an ideal time to reflect on inclusion in the workplace and how we can improve it. With this year’s theme, ‘Take Action Make Impact,’ we can use this time as a springboard to re-engage the workforce in inclusion.


Inclusive leadership, no matter what level, can increase team performance by up to 17%, show a 20% increase in decision-making quality and increase collaboration by up to 29%.1 For Gen Z, a company’s prioritisation of inclusion and diversity is expected.2 The business case is clear: to succeed in an increasingly volatile world, organisations need to make inclusion a strategic business priority. And this requires leadership accountability.  

Leadership teams must be accountable for inclusivity

For inclusion to become part of the DNA of any organisation, leaders need to model behaviours that drive inclusion and challenge the status quo.

Inclusive leaders don’t just appear out of nowhere; they take time to reflect on their behaviours and style.

What skills does an inclusive leader need? 

Inclusive leadership is a way of being, not a list of actions: it’s about who you are at work, not just what you do. Inclusive leaders don’t just appear out of nowhere; they take time to reflect on their behaviours and style. They consider areas for growth, take time to learn, and invite feedback from all those around them. 

The four dimensions of an inclusive leader:  

  1. Courage: stepping up and stepping in; challenging ourselves and others, and pushing through the discomfort. 
  2. Emotional intelligence: monitoring emotions and using this to guide thinking and actions. 
  3. Curiosity: maintaining an open mind to new experiences; developing a growth mindset; challenging our assumptions and always learning. 
  4. Self-awareness: awareness of our strengths, weaknesses, privilege, and power. 

At its core, inclusive leadership is about looking inwards first. What development do you need as a leader, and how can you bring your organisation along with you?

In my experience, the best inclusive leaders take ownership of inclusion, set it as a strategic business priority, and are humble enough to enlist experts and specialists to ensure the desired impact is made. So, I leave you to ponder this: what action can you take to drive inclusivity at work? 


[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/deloitte-review/issue-22/diversity-and-inclusion-at-work-eight-powerful-truths.html
[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2023/09/05/building-a-diverse-equitable-and-inclusive-culture-for-gen-z/

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