What Does It Mean to Be an Inclusive Leader? – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM DELOITTE DIGITAL



Diversity and inclusion are key factors attracting and engaging the kind of workforce that will build your company’s future. But research shows there can be a disconnect between what companies say they do and how people really experience inclusion in the workplace. Listen to Angelia Herrin, Editor for Special Projects and Research at HBR interview Dr. Terri Cooper, Principal and Chief Inclusion Officer of Deloitte Consulting, about the importance of building inclusive leaders throughout your organization.

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Angelia Herrin, HBR
Welcome to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Quick Take. I’m Angelia Herrin, Editor for Special Projects and Research at HBR. And today, I’m talking with Dr. Terri Cooper, Deloitte’s Chief Inclusion Officer, about new research into the role that today’s leaders must play in building inclusion and diversity within their company. And leveraging it for competitive advantage. Terri thanks so much for joining us today.

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting
Thanks Angelia it’s great to be here.

Angelia Herrin, HBR
Terri, diversity and inclusion have never been more relevant. As Deloitte’s Chief Inclusion Officer, what are your biggest priorities?

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting
Well the needs of today’s workforce have really changed dramatically, so at Deloitte we continue to evolve our perspective. And it’s really important for us to realize that each of us is multidimensional with unique needs and expectations that merge at different points in our professional and personal lives. So we found today’s workforce wants to work for an organization that not only acknowledges, but also supports and celebrates that. To have that kind of environment where people can be their authentic self, you need to create an inclusive culture. And doing so is critical to our business and is central to who we are. We know that when people bring their full selves to work every day they are more readily able to fully realize their potential. And there are many ways that we do this. And I’d like to give three examples.

First, we offer people the chance to engage and connect in many different ways through our inclusion council, around common passions and interests, as well as based on community and cohorts. We bring people together from different functions, backgrounds and experiences to engage in conversations and events related to community impact, well-being, development and inclusion.

Second, we also believe everyone has a role to play in creating an inclusive culture. So we’ve identified six leadership traits that we embed in our teams every day.

And lastly, we continue to hone in on specific areas where we can make a real impact, like encouraging mentorship and supporting all of our people interested in ascent into leadership.

Something else that’s distinctive about our strategy here at Deloitte is that empowered well-being is also a core aspect of inclusion. And empowered well-being is our holistic approach to giving people the support and the flexibility they need to be energized, competent and aware. And we believe that inclusion is essential to well-being because we recognize that we all have different well-being needs and priorities.

Angelia Herrin, HBR
We know that inclusion has the potential to impact the bottom line, but what do today’s workers say about the impact on their work experiences?

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting
So inclusion is often the key factor in attracting and engaging today’s workforce. From our research we know that 80 percent of respondents say inclusiveness is important when they’re actually choosing an employer, 39 percent of all respondents reported that they would leave their current organization for a more inclusive one, and 23 percent of respondents indicated that they have already left an organization for a more inclusive one.

For today’s workforce, an inclusive culture is truly grounded in their everyday experiences. So a little bit more data: 71 percent of respondents valued working for an organization with leadership that consistently demonstrates inclusive behaviors over one with mixed quantity and quality of inclusive initiatives offered; as opposed to working for an organization with high quality inclusion programming, but inconsistent inclusive leadership behaviors.

For many, an inclusive culture is a crucial component for a sense of advancement. And we know now that the top three accelerators respondents identified for their career growth were acceptance, advocacy and authenticity.

Angelia Herrin, HBR
Such an interesting point because Deloitte recently released research that found a disconnect between what companies say they do and how people really experience inclusion in the workplace. So what changes would companies make to make the most impact here? What needs to change?

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting
So we believe that companies need to consider how inclusive leadership, as well as the broader principles of diversity and inclusion fit within the organization, innovation strategy and processes. Seventy-two percent of employers say we need to redefine leadership to fit the demands of today’s modern world. For example, ensure that leaders assemble teams that are diverse in their thinking and showcase how this encourages innovation and creativity.

Additionally, individuals need to experience inclusion in their every day and view it as a business imperative. Organizations can share actionable steps on ways people can be more inclusive and bring their authentic self to work. And often individuals want to know how they can contribute and to be part of inclusion, but to do so they need more guidance on what to say or do to become more inclusive. Organizations also need to showcase how everyone has a role to play in fostering an inclusive culture.

Angelia Herrin, HBR
So what are the traits of this new kind of leader? What’s the profile of an inclusive leader today?

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting

We found that the most inclusive organizations embed inclusion into the very fabric of their organization. Respondents in our survey were clear that they are looking for leaders to be more transparent – 47 percent, authentic – 50 percent, and to recognize their own weaknesses – 53 percent. As a result of that, we’ve identified six leadership traits that we embed in our teams every day, and these behaviors are foundational to advance in Deloitte’s culture and I’ll highlight a few.

Courage, by that we mean engaging in tough conversations when necessary. And identify opportunities to be more inclusive, take ownership and engage others.

And the second that we consider to be critically important is cognizance of bias. Be aware of unconscious biases, so decisions can be made in a transparent, consistent and informed manner.

And the third is cultural intelligence. Be in a position where you can seek out opportunities to experience and learn about different cultures and be aware of other cultural context.

Angelia Herrin, HBR
So let’s take it back to your own experience at Deloitte. What does inclusive leadership mean at Deloitte, and do you find this is something that leaders can actually learn?

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting
Yes, I truly believe that this is something that can be learned. One of the things we often say at Deloitte is that being a leader means being an inclusive leader. And that applies to leaders at all levels, whether you’re just starting your career or operating in the C suite. It’s fundamental to our culture. And each and every one of us needs to strive to make inclusive behavior part of our daily routine. We believe that the six inclusive character traits of commitment, collaboration, curiosity, cultural intelligence, courage and cognizance provide a useful framework for people looking to build inclusive behaviors. And perhaps more importantly inclusive mindset.

Angelia Herrin, HBR
Terri it’s fascinating research. Thanks so much for talking with us about it today.

Terri Cooper, Deloitte Consulting
My pleasure. Thank you.

If you want to learn more about the report, Shift/Forward: Redefining Leadership, go to www.deloitte.com/us/shift-forward.

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