3 Big Ideas to Create a More Inclusive Culture

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Authored by

NLI Staff
Unlocking the power of a diverse organization requires creating a sense of inclusion. These three action-oriented ideas can help offer a roadmap.

As Khalil Smith, our Vice President of Consulting and Practices, has written, even though diversity often comes first in the coupling Diversity & Inclusion, leaders may actually find more success creating an inclusive culture first.

The reason: Inclusive cultures create the fertile soil for diversity to thrive. Without a sense of inclusion, diverse team members are less likely to feel they belong, and decide to jump ship. With inclusion, they may feel better aligned with the organization’s goals and stay engaged.

Below we’ve listed three action-oriented blog posts that leaders can use to create inclusive cultures of their own.

1. Why Growth Mindset Is Crucial to Inclusion

It’s actually a misnomer to say inclusion and diversity are the only two components of creating a culture with varied viewpoints, experience, and backgrounds, and where those people feel like they belong. The first step is helping people move from a mindset where things are static and can’t change—namely, their own team members—and instead use a growth mindset.

People who use a growth mindset are better able to see fluidity and flexibility in who comprises their team and, importantly, see the value those members bring.

2. Inclusion Isn’t Just About Having a ‘Seat at the Table’

Contrary to popular belief, just having a seat at the table—that is, being invited to meetings and looped into emails—doesn’t cut it to build inclusion. People may be physically present, but still feel like they lack a voice.

Leaders can help build a sense of inclusion by creating the conditions for people feeling like they don’t just have a seat at the table, but a voice, too. (For more info on raising quiet voices, click here.)

3. Leaders Should Be Striving Toward ‘Optimal Inclusion’—Here’s Why

Under-including people in meetings and projects is certainly a concern; no one wants anyone to feel left out. But over-including people is also a problem we don’t talk about as much. Teams lose countless hours of productivity due to people sitting idly in meetings rather than doing the work they were hired to do.

Leaders who want to create inclusive cultures should look to build optimally inclusive cultures. In those cultures, people know when to expect their involvement, what that involvement will look like, and how to interpret being left off meeting invites and rosters.

All of these ideas, taken together, help move teams toward inclusion. Importantly, they don’t guarantee a sense of inclusiveness, because inclusion is a feeling that lives in other people’s heads. But doing the work of building growth mindset, raising voices, and setting the right expectations for people all make huge leaps toward planting those ideas in people’s heads.

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