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Managing in an inclusive way

Adopting an inclusive attitude should be part of the foundation of all managers and leaders. Read this article to find out more.
A group of five people sitting around a desk with their laptops looking at a board and planning.
© CIPD

Recent times have proven to be challenging for leaders all around the world.

The workplace has had to change rapidly, and leaders are, in many cases, struggling to keep ahead of the curve.

The response to COVID-19 forced leaders to act quickly and to think outside of the box. Then we had the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA. Many global leaders had an impromptu reaction which caused employees to speak out.

Due to fear, and not being equipped for the journey ahead, organisations made tokenistic and tick-box gestures for a quick fix that can do more harm than good.

Adopting an inclusive attitude and creating a sense of belonging for everyone in your organisation should be the foundation of all managers and leaders. Your people are the core of any organisation and fostering an environment where your team can feel valued and can contribute is a great combination for everyone to thrive including you.

How to manage in an inclusive way

What does this mean anyway?

As a manager, there are lots of moving parts to your role. Being an inclusive manager in layman terms means that you are thinking about the different needs that the people in your team may have.

We tend to behave in ways that are comfortable to us, this is simply human nature. However, when thinking about actively becoming an inclusive leader, you need to not only consider your team and their needs but also yourself, your own beliefs, values, fears and understanding.

Let’s explore this in some more detail. As a leader you are at the forefront and expected to lead your team in an impactful and result-driven way. In doing so, it is important to understand your team and encourage dialogue while building trust throughout.

How do I become a better leader, understand the needs of different people and be equitable?

As a leader or manager, there are different skill sets and competencies that are required of you to be able to foster and transfer to your team, while at all times considering your team’s needs.

For example, you may have someone in your team that may need flexible working hours to accommodate caring responsibilities for an elderly parent or childcare requirements.

Another example could be that others may require assistance with as they are neurodiverse (dyslexic, Tourette’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) amongst others); another example could be employees with religious and cultural needs such as time to pray and recognising religious practices and celebrations such as Ramadan and Diwali.

When thinking about treating your team in an equitable way there are some aptitudes that can help you to accomplish this.

  • Being authentic – building trust and humility
  • Curiosity – being open to differences and celebrating differences
  • Adaptability – being flexible and accommodating
  • Self-Confidence – being optimistic and positive
Reflecting on the above and thinking about your own context, are there any small changes you could make to be more inclusive? Consider some ideas for short term, mid term and long term changes.

On the next step we will explore an example from Starbucks on initiatives they implemented to improve inclusion.

© CIPD
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Inclusive Management and Leadership Skills

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