How Today’s Workplace Leaders Can Become More Inclusive
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Psychologically Safe Leadership: Strategies for Facilitating Mental Health in the Workplace” is a web series in partnership with Dr. Bill Howatt of Howatt HR Consulting in Ottawa, and Troy Winter, Senior Health and Social Officer. Security at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ottawa.
Successful leaders are inclusive leaders who ensure their teams experience a welcoming, caring and open workplace.
Their approach and style reduces perceived fear and worry, leading to an inclusive culture where fear is suppressed and all employees believe their voices can be heard and listened to.
Inclusion helps create the conditions for diversity – the makeup of your team that encourages members to thrive in all aspects, from job performance to physical and psychological health.
Organizations are encouraged to develop a diverse culture. A diverse workforce at all levels of an organization increases innovation and creativity by bringing together diverse perspectives.
Some organizations have strived to reach a diverse workforce, but have failed to be an inclusive workplace. To harness the power of a diverse team, you need to make sure your workplace is inclusive. The day-to-day interactions of the employee-manager relationship play an essential role in building an inclusive culture.
In its 2018 report, Deloitte found that organizations with an inclusive culture were twice as likely to exceed their financial goals, six times as likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times as likely to achieve better business results.
More importantly, the report stated that “the behaviors of leaders. . . can result in up to 70 percentage points of difference between the proportion of employees who feel very included and the proportion of those who do not.
The micro-skills of inclusiveness
“One factor that will have a positive impact on promoting inclusion in the workplace are leaders who are committed to being psychologically safe leaders. – Dr Bill Howatt
We suggest that all leaders who wish to be inclusive apply the following micro-skills.
A great place to start is to recognize the work of employees and let them know that you appreciate their efforts and challenges. Take the time to recognize what they’re doing well, and don’t just point out where things can be better. Avoid using broad strokes. Be authentic and express your views in a meaningful way that shows you value their contribution. It helps promote a sense of belonging and connection.
Be aware of your leadership style, your experience and your limitations. It is not enough to be open only to hearing the perspectives of team members.
Create a safe space where everyone’s point of view is expected to be heard without judgment or interruption. Allow team members to collaborate and have the time and resources to complete their assigned tasks.
Psychologically Safe Workplace Awards Offer Employers Mental Health Tools and Data
Create conditions for inclusion by being curious (but not overly intrusive) about the interests and values of team members. Knowing more about your team’s experiences and perceptions helps you understand each member’s perspective.
Work with team members to understand their preferences. Ask them how they like to stay connected and share, and encourage them to ask questions when they’re feeling unsure or worried.
“The lack of inclusive practices in the workplace is a significant psychosocial risk, compromising any potential health and safety benefits achieved through team diversity. “- Troy Winters, CRSP
Learn about the practices, beliefs and expectations of other cultures and religions so you know how to support yourself and adapt as needed. You don’t have to be an expert in everything. Be open and understand that disrespecting cultural and religious beliefs can negatively impact the employee experience.
Lionel Laroche found, through research, that when asked about leader-employee relationships, people high in the average Canadian education system tend to want their leaders to give them the freedom to determine the best way. to carry out their work. However, some newcomer workers often expect clear and detailed guidelines. Leaders can be more supportive by being open to potential differences in the details that their team members need to complete their assigned tasks.
A useful practice is to discover potentially important cultural or religious days with employees on your team and follow them on a calendar to help you be aware, recognize, and adapt when needed.
Avoid implicit biases
Although workers are all different, we must avoid falling into the trap of assuming that workers of a particular background, religion, ethnicity, or even generation all belong to the same category.
Have open conversations with your team members to understand their needs and ask questions to get to know them better. It can help create a safe and welcoming experience for all employees.
Be aware of the privilege
The phrase, we are all in the same storm, but we have different boats, is an apt metaphor for thinking about the privilege that impacts a person’s journey to where they are in your organization. Due to external factors (many embedded in society) which are beyond the control of workers, some will have had to work harder to obtain their status.
Workers in the majority population do not face the discrimination, negative assumptions and behaviors that minority or marginalized populations experience.
Being open and aware of how privilege can be a factor is helpful for a leader to act in an inclusive manner. Watch the YouTube Privilege short for some background on this point.
Dr Bill Howatt is the Ottawa President of Howatt HR Consulting in Ottawa.
Troy Winters is a Senior Health and Safety Officer at the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ottawa.