Inclusive leadership- An Imperative Need

Jesse Jackson rightly quoted, “Leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day.” With changing times and the kind of diversity that exists today, leaders should keep adapting to these shifts and alter their leadership style that caters to the current need. No two individuals are the same and hence, there are infinite permutations and combinations to lead as well. But the crux of the style in which one leads and the whole idea of conduct can follow similar courses.
The idea of an inclusive leader is one who accommodates all factors necessary for consideration and evaluates a situation accordingly. A leader who follows inclusivity, does not have a rigid approach in dealing with their subordinates or have the words “force” or “oppress” reside in their dictionary. He is a people-oriented person and makes sure everyone is progressing and none is left behind.

With the latest happenings around the world and humanity going for a toss, inclusive leadership in the corporates should be encouraged. The difficulty faced by employees to work and adjust to various aspects of their jobs is just one page of the book. There are struggles one faces apart from their work life, which are sometimes not known to anyone. Every individual happens to encounter battles; physically, mentally, monitory and much more. A leader who can manage to deal with such situations with a bit of grace and certainty, can actually be successful in being efficient himself and making their employees more productive.

Everyone deserves respect and the right to equal opportunities. Diversity is essential as every team player brings their own set of qualities to the table, which in turn opens new opportunities and generates solutions that are never before thought about. Team working is promoted. But there still happens to be instances, where employees earn an edge over their colleagues over issues such as gender, caste, race, religion, etc. And the entire spirit of working with one another becomes a victim a bias. But when an organization encourages inclusiveness, a leader acts without bias and gives equal and indistinguishable preference to all their players.

Nobody is perfect and a good leader is aware of their shortcomings and does not shy away from accepting feedback or criticism. Because, you learn from your mistakes and mistakes are what make room for improvement. Being considerate of others opinions and being non-judgemental of different view-points is essential in this set-up.
In an inclusive environment, where diverse backgrounds are engaged, there is constant growth in collaboration of different disciplines of an organisation. A distinctive crowd working across different hierarchy in unanimity sends a powerful message across the market with regards to the workplace ethics and the work culture being diligently followed by the organisation.

With its “BETTER TOGETHER: Gender Balance and Diversity Strategy”, McDonald’s made an initiative to decrease gender disparity. This strategy included more female employees on the technology front like AI, cybersecurity, Data Science, etc. Also, to mark the launch of this strategy, the CEO of McDonald’s, along with other senior leaders uploaded an upside-down picture of their logo as their LinkedIn profile picture. Along with this, McDonald’s also used this strategy to promote International Women’s Day on all of its social media platforms. The leaders were committed on bringing about a change in the organisation culture by giving equal status to women employees. Thus prompting, that the officials were engaging in an inclusive leadership style.

Many more organisations are starting to incorporate inclusiveness in their corporate culture which gives employees a sense of belongingness and makes them feel like they are a valuable asset and intensifies their loyalty for the company. A loyal and happy employee promotes your brand far better than someone who does not believe in it. Thus, decreasing staff turnover and increasing morale. The HR should encourage more leaders from their companies to adopt this approach of inclusivity in their leadership style.

A leader who is compassionate, humble, is aware of their unconscious bias, open to criticism and opinions, a leader who doesn’t just lead, but treats all their subordinates with equal respect and gives each one an equal opportunity and thrives for their success, is a leader in true sense. In this world of diversity, where one gets treated indifferently due to certain social factors, an inclusive leader serves the same set of ingredients to every employee. Now, it is in the hands of the employee to prepare his/her own dish using their creativity and talent. When we say this world needs to be a better place to be, we need such leaders to lead.



Thanks & Regards
Rithika Rao
 Vivekanand Business School