How To Create Sustainable Inclusion In Your Organization

After 20 years of working with corporations to build a more diverse and inclusive culture, authors Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan wrote, The Inclusion Dividend.  Published in 2013, the book has become a must-read for business leaders who want to learn how investing in diversity and inclusion will pay dividends in:
  • greater innovation
  • higher productivity
  • stronger client relationships
  • a more engaged workforce
Today, Donovan explains in his guest post below that there are four areas of competency that must be mastered in order to create sustainable inclusion. These competencies are broad, touching all levels of the organization, from intrapersonal interactions to the organization’s interface with the marketplace.

By: Mason Donovan

Competency I: Individual Awareness and Self-Management

·         Challenge Your Own Conventional Wisdom – Your perspective as a leader is molded by your own insider and outsider group identities and the group identities of those around you. Challenge not only your own conventional wisdom, but that of the people most like you.

·         Audit Yourself, Your Relationships and Your Critical Moments – Think about your mentors, sponsors and other people you turn to for advice. How diverse is this group? In what ways are you limiting or expanding your own perspective?

·         Build Relationships with People Who Are Different – Leaders who do not get out of their comfort zones limit their own development. Sameness begets sameness.

Competency 2: Embrace the Paradox of Individuality and Group Identity

·         Notice Patterns by Group Identity – Our group identities strongly influence what we notice and what we don’t. Find out what the different groups in your organization are thinking by conducting interviews and even just taking some time to look around the office.

·         Consider Group Identity When Planning Staff Development – Provide strong support to all staff, and particularly strong and conscious support to members of outsider groups.

·         Develop Relationships with All of Your Staff – Aspects of difference create very different frames of reference. Understanding group identity is what allows you to treat your staff as full individuals.

Competency 3: Envision and Frame Positive Change

·         Create a Compelling Business Case – It must speak to your organization and your customers, and must be connected to your long-term strategy.

·         Speak to the Impact of Inclusion – Ask yourself what you will personally get from creating a more inclusive organization. What will be required of you to make it happen?

·         Create a Positive Vision of Inclusion – Look for high-performing, diverse teams in your organization. Talk about them and hold them up as positive examples.

Competency 4: Foster True Meritocracy

·         Acknowledge That You Don’t Have a Meritocracy – The challenge in creating a true meritocracy is understanding the factors that help individuals develop and leverage their capabilities. A meritocracy is a continual pursuit with no end point.

·         Take a Critical Look at Your Culture – Consider how the culture is easier or more difficult to navigate for any number of groups, based on age, gender, social class, etc.

·         Examine Your Talent Acquisitions and Talent Management Systems – Reduce unintended bias in formal systems and processes.


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