Sonny Leong CBE, explains why inclusive leadership is not just a slogan, but a strategy to maximise talent in business and government.
30 years ago, when I entered business as a publisher, most companies didn’t care about inclusive leadership. Consciously or otherwise, they screened and shut out those who didn’t go to university, ethnic minorities and women, thus limiting the potential of their growth.
Much has changed in business and society since then. According to University of Edinburgh, women now make up 48% of the workforce, compared to 2/5 in 1970s. 6% of Britons are from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background, who make up 8.7% of the employed population. Today, prime ministers openly criticise discrimination, and businesses no longer view inclusive leadership as a slogan, but a talent-maximisation strategy at the heart of their success story.
Such a strategy must be driven by conviction, not convenience. As Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders, Laura Liswood, puts it in The Loudest Duck, the Noah’s Ark “two of each kind” approach simply won’t cut the mustard when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. For inclusive leadership to succeed, leaders must genuinely believe in it, and lead from the front to deliver this change.
For inclusive leadership to succeed, executives must make a strong business case for it – which is easier said than done. By case of an example, Forbes Insight found in a survey of 300 multi-national executives that 41% of executives said “failure to perceive the connection between diversity and business drivers” is a major barrier from developing inclusive leadership.
In recent years, a larger body of evidence has emerged in support of inclusive leadership. According to a 2013 study by Deloitte, employees who feel included are 80% more likely to believe they work in a high performing organisation, in comparison to a workplace perceived with low diversity. In the past decade, research from McKinsey to Catalyst had also found that inclusivity and diversity drive better performance.
But in order to apply this analysis to drive growth, executives must be culturally aware and inspiration in their communications. An inclusive leader will adjust his or her style of leadership to social differences – like class, education or socio-economic status, and be aware of diversity in the workplace. The leader must also be strategic in his approach to bring about inclusivity to the whole of the organisation, while mitigating any unconscious (or institutional) biases within it.
To help executives in the public sector achieve this goal, Civil Service College (in partnership with the acclaimed EW Group) provides a one-day bespoke training programme to help executives strategise inclusive leadership. Not only will we analyse how diversity is linked with performance, our specialists will also introduce a range of techniques – including our approach to managing unconscious bias – which will support you in all aspects of effective leadership.
Our programme will enable you with practical tools and actions to begin leading inclusively straight away. From relationship building to raising cultural and social awareness, to becoming an advocate for inclusive workplace cultures externally, we will provide you with actions that can deliver results very quickly.
Together, we will build an inclusive leadership that is fit for 2017, and drive your team towards success in the year to come.
About Civil Service College
Civil Service College (CSC) was founded in 2012, inheriting the mission to provide public sector training by the National School of Government (closed in 2010). Today, Civil Service College offers a wide variety of innovative training courses, from accountability and governance to leadership training, finance management, project management and personal development – all of which can be customised to fit your specific training needs.