How to Be an Inclusive Leader | Jennifer Brown

Summary of: How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive
By: Jennifer Brown


In the quest for creating more equitable workplaces, Jennifer Brown’s book ‘How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive’ comes as a timely reminder on the importance of diversity and inclusion. The book discusses the glaring issues of underrepresentation and discrimination faced by various minority groups, focusing on the need for organizations to acknowledge and address these challenges. By providing a multi-step model, the Inclusive Leader Continuum, leaders can assess and develop their personal approach to inclusivity, ultimately creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment.

The Diversity Dilemma

The lack of diversity and inclusivity in most workplaces is still a sad reality. In 2014, only 3.3% of US corporate senior managers were Black men. Similarly, White men dominate publishing, conferences, and media interviews. Fortune 500 companies face a dismal 1.5% representation of Black female senior managers. LGBTQ+ managers report a fear of being closeted at work. Honest conversations and proactive action towards creating an equitable work environment is the need of the hour to make people feel seen and heard in the workforce.

Overcoming Barriers at Work

Discrimination in the workplace extends beyond sexual orientation and racial and ethnic identities, affecting individuals with different abilities and body types. Companies must seek to create a fair and inclusive workplace for all employees, including intersex, asexual, and allied individuals, and provide equal opportunities for personal and professional growth. Overcoming barriers requires a culture shift that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating a conducive space for all employees to thrive irrespective of their demographics or affiliations.

The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion

Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion outperform their competitors with 28% higher revenue, doubled net income, and 30% higher profit margins. Failing to do so renders organizations uncompetitive as demographics shift, making inclusivity and diversity corporate imperatives. Younger generations increasingly demand inclusive workplaces, and those who feel excluded move on to more accepting companies. Inclusivity and diversity contribute to social cohesion and teamwork, fueling collaboration and an improved bottom line. Promoting equity reinforces the power of “creative abrasion,” enabling problem-solving and fresh ideas to thrive.

Leaders’ Guide to Inclusion

Organizations can no longer ignore the diversity problem. To become inclusivity leaders, executives should embrace a multi-step model called Inclusive Leader Continuum. This helps managers identify where their personal mindset stands on the non-inclusivity-to-inclusivity spectrum, enabling them to set goals for personal and organizational growth. Human potential is unleashed when employees feel a sense of belonging, and it’s up to executives to create that environment. Moving past the “best person for the job” mentality, embracing inclusivity leads to a more equitable workplace. The Inclusive Leader Continuum helps leaders define their path to becoming inclusivity leaders.

Tony Robbins and #MeToo: A Lesson in Inclusive Leadership

The story of motivational speaker Tony Robbins’ viral video, where he belittles #MeToo while physically intimidating a small female audience member, is an apt illustration of an individual stuck in the Unaware stage of the Inclusive Leadership Continuum. The snippet provides useful tips on moving from being Unaware to Aware. For instance, individuals with privilege can start by learning about the issues at the core of fighting discrimination, while genuine good intentions should translate to good actions. Moreover, equity, which means creating a level playing field, is not an idealized goal but an achievable one that promotes inclusivity and diversity.

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