Inclusion: The Path to High Performance Cultures

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Inclusion: The Path to High Performance Cultures

Does your company truly understand the business case for inclusion? Or is your leadership team still thinking about inclusion solely in terms of compliance, such as awareness training? A big reason why we haven’t made more progress in the last 20 years is that many executives are still stuck in the latter way of thinking.

To help break through these outdated mindsets, SHAMBAUGH Leadership is offering a free webcast on June 12th at 10:00am ET.  I will call out the number one area that holds organizations and leaders back from making inclusion a priority. SHAMBAUGH will walk you through the first steps you can take to improve your organization’s leadership culture, and you’ll learn ways to retain your top talent, accelerate your leadership pipeline, and create a culture where everyone can thrive.

Fortunately, in the work that SHAMBAUGH is doing in the area of inclusion, I’ve seen that a growing number of competitive organizations are beginning to understand that inclusion is no longer just a “nice to have,” or a way to tick all the boxes on compliance. They are learning that creating an inclusive culture has become critical to their success. Organizations that prioritize inclusion gain an advantage in their ability to create, innovate, and align with today’s new marketplace. By orienting growth plan strategies and allowing more capacity to create new products and solutions that align with today’s diverse marketplace, companies help their own bottom lines as much as they help their employees.

Numbers speak louder than words in this arena, so consider these facts that push back on the “so what” for inclusion:

  • Inclusive companies experience 3 times greater cash flow, according to research from Josh Bersin.
  • The most diverse companies outperform the least diverse ones by 35 percent, as proven by McKinsey & Company data.
  • Diverse organizations are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets, as reported in Harvard Business Review.

What’s more, two-thirds of job seekers have expressed wanting to work for a diverse team, which makes inclusiveness a major factor in recruitment and retention in the war for talent. This shows that today’s top talent cares not just about the position itself or even compensation, but about workplace factors that reflect inclusive behaviors such as authentic leadership, transparency, feedback, and management accountability to ensure a level playing field to succeed. With this in mind, consider these three actions that organizations can start taking today to join other leaders on the path to creating a high-performance culture:

Build a business case, not a one-off program. As the statistics above clearly reveal—and these are just the tip of the iceberg—a strong business case already exists to support the rationale for making inclusion an integral part of corporate and organizational growth initiatives. Don’t take a lightweight approach to inclusion—instead, strategies that mandate and facilitate an inclusive culture should be baked into HR and management policies, development, and training, with leaders held accountable for their execution. The goal is for leaders to create and tap into teams that are cognitively diverse, while keeping others in the organization accountable for inclusiveness via well-defined inclusive leadership competencies. In hiring practices, this should include requirements to consider a cognitively diverse slate of candidates for leadership opportunities and other stretch challenges.

Nurture layered teams. It takes courage for leadership to foster diverse thinking perspectives, particularly when those diverge from the leader’s own viewpoints. It’s no surprise that SHAMBAUGH’s research shows senior leaders initially prefer to collaborate with people who share the leader’s own approach to problem-solving. But while sameness may be comforting, be brave: we’ve determined that when leadership supports a wider range of cognitive styles, it can spur teams and companies to breakthrough solutions. So encourage a culture that supports differences in how each member of the team thinks about, responds to, and tackles challenges.

Remember: even leaders can have unconscious bias. If you’re committed to leading inclusively, then you must stay alert for how your own biases show up. One sign that your bias is leading you and others is if you notice that instead of nurturing layered teams, boards, and networks, you in fact aren’t nurturing the layered types of teams described above, and are instead surrounded mainly by employees who share your perspective. Inclusive leaders keep informed and maintain an objective outlook by tapping a wide range of different viewpoints. Your decisions influence whose voice gets heard around the table, so take care to notice if your bias is causing certain types of thinkers to be excluded.

If you’re a leader, I challenge you to continuously ask yourself this question: “How can be the voice of change and demonstrate inclusive leadership that unifies the collective intelligence of everyone on my teams, while keeping other leaders accountable for doing the same?

Find out more about how to develop an inclusive workplace environment


Join SHAMBAUGH President Rebecca Shambaugh for a free webcast on June 12th at 10:00am ET. Rebecca will be discussing the first steps you can take to improve your organization’s leadership culture. Find out how you can retain your top talent, accelerate your leadership pipeline, and create a culture where everyone can thrive.

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Rebecca Shambaugh is a leadership expert on building inclusive cultures and high performance cultures. Sheis the Founder of Women in Leadership and Learning, a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, and blogger for the Huffington Post. She is author of the best-selling books It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor and Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results

We’re on a mission to develop high-performing and inclusive leaders who transform workplace cultures so everyone can thrive. Find out more about us at: www.shambaughleadership.com

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