For any organisation to thrive in today’s business ecosystem, it needs an inclusive workforce to serve its customers better. Creating an environment where diversity can flourish requires a culture that welcomes and respects everyone and values individual contributions and ideas. I believe that there are six critical steps in shaping a culture that allows people to be themselves and unleash their potential.
1. Create a culture where everyone is entitled to express themselves freely.
Sometimes we wonder why there are so few female CEOs. From my experience, most operationally-focused companies work under immense pressure to meet deadlines. These companies have operated this way for years. Promotion is based on playing the hard work game or being seen as willing to do everything that is required under immense pressure – even if it means sleeping on the office floor for an hour to get the job done.
Traditionally women, who are often also mothers, tend to go home to take care of those who are important to us – our family. In companies where quantity is valued over quality, your fate has been decided before you even get to a middle management position. However, I believe we can still achieve great results without having to sleep on the office floor.
If companies want to make room to accommodate more female leaders, they should look at their all or nothing culture. I believe that the determinant of good business results is not the length of time you work, but the quality of work you put out.
2. Create a culture where people can share their jobs and responsibilities.
Task delegation is an essential aspect of leadership. Good leaders can recognise and pinpoint which team members will be best for which tasks to complete a project most effectively and efficiently. However, continually assigning team members to just one specific task can limit their growth and potential. Open up conversations among your team members when it comes to jobs and responsibilities, so you don’t end up overlooking burgeoning talents.
3. Create a culture where people show up as who they are
The value of diversity in an organisation is that it can offer new perspectives, opinions and ideas from people of different backgrounds. Leaders will never discover the benefits of a diverse workforce if these voices are not heard. Build a culture that lets your employees know that their insights are welcomed and valued.
4. Create a culture where people can openly discuss their disappointments without being judged.
For decades, we’ve believed that workplaces are not a space for individual emotions and that, to be a professional, you need to get on with your work and bottle up your pain. Professionals are also humans and we need to acknowledge their discomfort and pain, whether they stem from their work or home. The workplace should be a safe space where employees can express if they’re uncomfortable with a task or a situation, without fear of backlash.
5. Create a culture where everyone is empowered to make the right decision.
Leaders need to communicate to the team members that they believe in their skills and talents. Teach them to trust in their ability to make the right decision in their roles. Manage results, not tasks. Instead of telling a team member how to do their job, ask them what they think is the best approach and what method is best for them to complete their task, and provide suggestions and feedback if necessary.
6. Create a culture where everyone’s opinion counts.
Everyone’s opinion matters to them and should be respected. Diversity without inclusion is like inviting people to join you at the dining table, but not allowing them to enjoy the meal. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in today.
For any organisation to achieve its aspiration as a market leader, every member of the diverse team must be valued, feel a sense of belonging and be able to contribute their best towards the growth of the organisation through their different perspectives without discrimination against their gender, race or beliefs.
Everyone in our world needs to be given an equal opportunity to belong, be able to express themselves, and contribute their best in driving changes and making an impact. This is not just the right thing to do; it’s good for business.
At Rise and Lead, we hold several events focused on leadership development. Also, our Connect2Grow mentoring sessions provide the opportunity and a safe space to discuss your workplace challenges.
We are happy to announce the launch of the Rise and Lead Connect2Grow Mentoring Circle Virtual Community, to bring together professionals, business leaders and change-makers to connect, learn from one another and share experiences – most importantly a place where your voice and opinion matters.
Rise and Lead Community members receive exclusive access to private connections and peer and facilitated mentoring experiences while supporting the Rise and Lead commitment to leading the change towards closing the gender leadership gap. Please help us to realise our vision of a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable world for ALL by becoming a member today!
Learn more and join us here.
Ebere Akadiri is an accomplished entrepreneur and an advocate for women in leadership. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.