How does your team — your direct reports and your boss — describe your leadership style? Do they speak of how you empower them? Do they feel that you authentically and courageously drive collaboration for a better end result? Would they say you provide unwavering support and vision, even when the going gets tough?
These characteristics are the hallmarks of inclusive leadership. Getting there can be one of the most powerful journeys of your career and for your organization.
WMFDP | FDP Global is tackling the demands of this journey head-on through our innovative action-learning programs, the Leadership Accelerator Series and the White Men as Allies Learning Lab. These learning opportunities build inclusive leaders who get unstuck from leadership styles of the past to become catalysts for the innovation, change and inspiration that today’s workplace needs. Contact our team to learn more.
Moving from Non-Supporter to Allied Champion
To achieve leadership that is collaborative, supportive and authentic, leaders travel a challenging but culture-shifting path. At WMFDP | FDP Global, we see this path through the framework of our Champion’s Roadmap.
Every leader sits somewhere on this roadmap, and there is no shame in acknowledging where you currently are. The empowerment comes in identifying where you are and recognizing which active learning steps you can take to move forward from wherever you are.
- Non-Supporters – Leaders at this level do not yet understand why inclusive initiatives are necessary and valuable. They often ask, “Why should this matter to me? How will this impact me and my role?”
- Observer – You’re likely an observer on the roadmap if you find yourself able to recognize and verbalize that different experiences exist all around you. But you aren’t sure what to do about it yet.
- Learner – In this part of the journey, leaders are actively curious about the perspectives that surround them. They understand that they don’t know what they don’t know.
- Willing Partner – Leaders at the partner stage of their journey are becoming allies. They acknowledge – and work to reduce – the harm that marginalized groups experience. They intentionally build relationships across differences.
- Advocate – When you arrive at the advocate stage of the Champion’s Roadmap, you are a leader for change. You examine your impact and actively lead your colleagues and employees to make meaningful progress in diversity and inclusion.
- Disruptor – Leaders who are disruptors seek ways to change the status quo by actively pushing back against inequitable practices.
- Sponsor – At the sponsor level of the roadmap, leaders put their money where their mouths are. They find and allocate resources to champion meaningful, systemic DEI initiatives.
The Roadmap Doesn’t “End”
There is undeniable potential for all leaders to learn and grow as champions for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. As our inclusive leadership skills expand, we more directly impact systemic culture change in word and deed. And the more we actively engage on this journey to allyship, the more we facilitate meaningful progress within our organizations, and without.
Even at the sponsor stage of the roadmap, there is work to do – no one arrives at some all-encompassing knowledge. Instead, leaders at this level recognize that tangible, sustainable culture change requires their active buy-in, participation and modeling. It relies on leaders who can seek and elevate diverse voices and perspectives. It demands a workplace that embraces informed decision-making, innovation and a deeper understanding of its customers and community.
Active learning precipitates wholesale change at every step of the Champion’s Roadmap.
Empowered Action for C-Suite Leaders
If action is the key to inclusive leadership that champions equity and belonging, how do we start the ball rolling? How do we act in a way that is sustainable and authentic, rather than chaotic and short-lived? How do we become leaders whose teams unequivocally see us as supportive and empowering?
We accomplish this through facilitated action-learning that includes the following steps.
Implement Diverse Hiring at the C-Suite Level
Does your organization’s highest level of leadership represent different backgrounds, gender identities, ethnicities, abilities and experiences to drive inclusive leadership? If not, what are you doing to change that? What actions are you taking in your learning journey to facilitate this process?
Diversifying the C-Suite isn’t a punitive move to remove white men. It’s about bringing all the voices possible into decision-making conversations — because we know that makes better teams and better businesses.
By examining your recruitment, hiring and retention strategies, your company can tap into a wealth of talent to elevate its performance and boost profitability. Diversifying your interview panels and mentorship programs cultivates a pipeline of diverse leaders who are equipped to guide your organization today and beyond.
Build DEI Champions Throughout the C-Suite
If your team is struggling to find solid inclusive leadership ground together, facilitated action-learning is the best solution. This level of support allows leadership to set clear diversity and inclusion goals, allocate resources responsibly and communicate effectively with your entire organization.
Through training opportunities such as the Leadership Accelerator Series, your C-Suite actively learns how to implement habit change, heart change and culture change that lasts. These steps create the cohesive top-down DEI buy-in your employees demand and deserve.
Utilize Data-Driven Decision-Making
Any analysis of corporate initiatives requires data, and DEI efforts are no different. Working with HR and your analytics team, you’ll establish metrics, measure progress, note setbacks and identify areas for improvement at all levels of the organization. Regularly reviewing these metrics with an open mind and a heart for learning keeps your leadership accountable and ready to make informed decisions.
Hear Your Employees
Data and metrics are invaluable tools in planning and implementing structural changes in any organization. However, day-to-day conversations and check-ins with employees are equally valuable.
Help your leadership team learn how to have the bold conversations necessary to understand your workforce’s experiences. Encourage your C-Suite to be vulnerable and humble enough to ask employees, “How can our company support and elevate your lived experiences? How is our company failing to do this today?”
Asking these challenging questions isn’t always easy, and it isn’t the end of the conversation. We also must accept the answers we receive. Without defensiveness, without rebuttals. Acknowledging missteps, setbacks and outright failures is a critical part of the process.
Ensure Adequate Resource Allocation
Allocating resources to DEI efforts signals its importance to the organization. What is your company doing to put its money where its mouth is? For tangible DEI progress, strong leaders invest in the following:
- Chief Diversity Officer
- Employee Resource Groups
- DEI Workshops and Conferences
- Educational Opportunities for Marginalized Employees
- Diversity-Focused Initiatives
- Partnerships with External DEI Organizations
Bring Inclusive Leadership Development to Your C-Suite
Inclusive leadership training for leaders cannot be a one-time, check-the-box event. Those options keep your organization stuck at the lip-service level of diversity and inclusion.
Ongoing work that allows for deep introspection and conversation is the only effective way to move the needle in creating a sense of belonging. It’s the primary way to cultivate a team of champions and allies who are ready to stay in the work, even when it’s difficult.
C-Suite members set an example when they participate in culture-changing programs like the Leadership Accelerator Series and openly discuss their experiences. Their transparent desire to learn through meaningful action encourages a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
Empowering DEI Action in the C-Suite Moves Past Compliance
Let’s be blunt. In 2023, no organization should still be operating solely out of DEI compliance and box-checking. This is last century’s leadership mentality and is poorly equipped to handle this century’s economy — particularly post-pandemic. Today’s challenges and workforce require new leadership styles
By empowering inclusive leadership in the C-Suite, your organization can stand tall and proud above the others who are ignoring this crucial mindset shift. By diversifying your leadership and embracing initiatives from the top down, your company will reap the benefits:
- Greater Innovation and Creativity
- Enhanced Reputation and Status
- Talent Attraction and Retention
- Legal Risk Mitigation
A diverse and empowered C-Suite creates a thriving organizational culture that values and celebrates the unique contributions of each individual. Embedded diversity, equity and inclusion efforts build structural integrity that drives positive change internally and makes a broader impact on the communities we serve.
The C-Suite leadership holds the power and responsibility to actively learn how to do better for everyone in their sphere. The Leadership Accelerator Series and White Men as Allies Learning Lab from WMFDP | FDP Global equip you to do exactly that. Connect with our team today to learn more and secure your team’s registration in the next cohort.