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The business case for inclusive leadership


Hiring diverse talent alone doesn’t guarantee high performance. It requires inclusive leadership that ensures that all team members feel valued, confident and inspired.


What leaders say and do, makes up to a 70 percent of difference to how included their team members feel. And when people feel included, they speak up and go the extra mile, creating a high performing organisational culture. A recent McKinsey study reaffirms the strong business case for diversity and inclusion in corporate leadership, and shows that this business case continues to strengthen, as the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.


A critical leadership capability


Inclusive leadership is a critical capability that attracts both diverse talent and customers, as it articulates authentic commitment to diversity and challenges the status quo. Inclusive leaders demonstrate an open mindset and curiosity, listening to those around them with empathy – and leaders who are empathetic are open to criticism about their personal biases which in turns leads to better perspective-taking. This is not only critical for the leader’s personal development, but it also helps others to feel more included.


Research shows that teams with inclusive leaders are 17 percent more likely to report that they are high performing, 20 percent more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29 percent more likely to report behaving collaboratively. What’s more, a 10 percent improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost one day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.


When building an inclusive organisation, leaders often focus on the mission, vision, values, and a promise to ensure everyone in the organisation has a voice, but they miss out on the way they communicate every day with their employees. It is therefore essential that inclusive leaders make an effort to put their audiences first and adapt messages to their needs, values, interests, and demographic, considering not just who they are, but also what they have to say.


Bringing the best out of people


Organisations thrive when leaders create a culture where people bring their whole selves to work. However, the recent crisis has put extraordinary pressure on leaders, who were expected to make critical decisions quickly, with incomplete and rapidly evolving information. And being in crisis mode has led to even the most well-meaning leaders falling into patterns of bias and exclusion. Research shows that when we are stressed, we default to our instincts and short-term goals. Yet, organisations are much more likely to innovate in the face of a crisis if they seek input from a diverse group of talent who approach challenges from a variety of perspectives.


Inclusive leadership is about treating people fairly based on their unique characteristics, rather than on stereotypes; understanding and valuing their uniqueness, while also accepting them as members of the group, and leveraging their thinking for decision making that reduces the risk of being blindsided. Highly inclusive leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion because they align with their personal values and because they believe in the business case. They also have the courage to speak up and challenge the status quo, and they are honest about their strengths and weaknesses.


At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at simon@askacumen.com.























































A critical leadership capability


Inclusive leadership is a critical capability that attracts both diverse talent and customers, as it articulates authentic commitment to diversity and challenges the status quo. Inclusive leaders demonstrate an open mindset and curiosity, listening to those around them with empathy – and leaders who are empathetic are open to criticism about their personal biases which in turns leads to better perspective-taking. This is not only critical for the leader’s personal development, but it also helps others to feel more included.


Research shows that teams with inclusive leaders are 17 percent more likely to report that they are high performing, 20 percent more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29 percent more likely to report behaving collaboratively. What’s more, a 10 percent improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost one day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.


When building an inclusive organisation, leaders often focus on the mission, vision, values, and a promise to ensure everyone in the organisation has a voice, but they miss out on the way they communicate every day with their employees. It is therefore essential that inclusive leaders make an effort to put their audiences first and adapt messages to their needs, values, interests, and demographic, considering not just who they are, but also what they have to say.


Bringing the best out of people


Organisations thrive when leaders create a culture where people bring their whole selves to work. However, the recent crisis has put extraordinary pressure on leaders, who were expected to make critical decisions quickly, with incomplete and rapidly evolving information. And being in crisis mode has led to even the most well-meaning leaders falling into patterns of bias and exclusion. Research shows that when we are stressed, we default to our instincts and short-term goals. Yet, organisations are much more likely to innovate in the face of a crisis if they seek input from a diverse group of talent who approach challenges from a variety of perspectives.


Inclusive leadership is about treating people fairly based on their unique characteristics, rather than on stereotypes; understanding and valuing their uniqueness, while also accepting them as members of the group, and leveraging their thinking for decision making that reduces the risk of being blindsided. Highly inclusive leaders are committed to diversity and inclusion because they align with their personal values and because they believe in the business case. They also have the courage to speak up and challenge the status quo, and they are honest about their strengths and weaknesses.


At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at simon@askacumen.com.