Talking about Diversity and Inclusion is not easy. Too many of the terms are loaded, meaning they tend to elicit strong emotional responses from listeners. Naturally, people feel very nervous about making a mistake—especially in an increasingly polarized era when it can feel like it’s getting easier and easier to inadvertently offend someone.
When you expand the topic of diversity and inclusion out to a more global context, this can become even more challenging, since diversity is defined differently depending on where you come from and who you’re talking about.
Global inclusion poses its own challenges for the same reasons.
RW3 defines global inclusion as the attitudes and behaviors of individuals spread across the globe that lead to an environment where professionals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives feel valued, welcomed and appreciated.
The crux of that definition revolves around making individuals feel valued, welcomed and appreciated, while recognizing that the behaviors that can make someone feel included may vary from one place to another. That’s why we speak of globalinclusion at RW3. In a global context, the actions that lead to inclusivity change depending on the cultural differences at play. What is universal, however, is feeling valued, welcomed and appreciated.
When you view inclusion through that lens, it becomes pretty clear that inclusion isn’t thatcomplicated, it just involves self-awareness and an understanding of how your behavior impacts others. Easy examples of inclusive behaviors in the workplace include inviting everyone in the office to social events, remembering people’s birthdays, going out of your way to introduce yourself to new people at your company and seeking out other people’s opinions regarding work.
But what about leadinginclusively?
3 Steps to Develop Your Inclusive Global Leadership Skills
As it turns out, once you push past the lingo and the charged news articles, inclusive leadership is also easy. Here are three easy steps toward successful inclusive global leadership:
1. Read up and learn about topics like diversity and inclusion, and implicit bias. Understanding implicit bias, for example, can help you understand how a natural brain process can change the way you perceive those who are different from you—and how to prevent those biases from becoming prejudicial.
2. Learn about yourself. This includes your behaviors and beliefs and how you impact others. Try creating a “life map”that traces the formative events in your life and how they shaped you. The key here is to understanding that, short of being malicious, there's no right or wrong. You are who you are. And when you’re culturally self-aware, you’re more likely to lead authentically.
3. Put everything you've learned into practice. As a leader, this includes focusing always on being genuine about who you are (see step two above), acknowledging that trust is built in different ways across cultures, and recognizing that the ability to build trust is paramount toward being a successful global leader. For example, try making extra effort to ensure each team member gets to speak their mind.
In addition to the above tips, you need to understand the cultural nuances within which you’re operating to make sure that your inclusive behaviors are being interpreted correctly.
And, above all, remember that all of the stress from diversity and inclusion comes from external sources. Inclusive leadership—and being inclusive in general—is all about self-awareness of your actions and the impact they have on others. It’s about making people feel valued and like they’re part of the team, no matter who they are or where they’re from.