February 12, 2020

89: Growing into an Inclusive Leader

Good intentions just aren’t enough when it comes to being an inclusive leader and creating an environment that truly embraces diversity. I learned that the hard way. It requires a personal journey in which you learn about yourself and others, but by doing so, you are able to become an empathic and inclusive leader needed to build a thriving team in which all people flourish.

Jennifer Brown is a leading diversity and inclusion expert, dynamic keynote speaker, best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur and host of The Will To Change podcast, which uncovers true stories of diversity and inclusion. As the founder, president and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting, her workplace strategies have been employed by some of the world’s top Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits to help employees bring their full selves to work and feel Welcomed, Valued, Respected and Heard℠.

Jennifer and I talk about what diversity and inclusion really means, the personal journey of engaging in being a more inclusive leader, what you can do to support your learning, and a whole lot more. And, you’ll hear about my own learning journey when it comes to implicit bias and being an inclusive leader. This is deep and challenging work and it is so important.

Read the related blog article: Start Your Journey of Inclusive Leadership With Small Steps

Join the Modern Manager community to get 20% off JBC’s upcoming DEI Foundation’s course which will equip you with the knowledge you need to meet the challenges of this changing world of work so you don’t get left behind. Learn more about the course at: https://jenniferbrownconsulting.lpages.co/.

If you work for a nonprofit or government agency, email me at mamie@mamieks.com for 20% off any membership level.

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  • Embracing diversity and inclusion is more like building a new muscle than putting on a pair of glasses. It requires noticing and making different choices.
  • There are visible and invisible forms of diversity: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Sexual Orientation, Disabilities, Mental Health, Neuro-Diversity, Veteran Status, Age, Parental Status.
  • Unconscious bias exists in everyone and it doesn’t make us a bad person. Being well intentioned or holding morally just values is not enough because bias lives below the surface.
  • The important thing is to admit to yourself that you have unconscious bias so that you can start to recognize your own thoughts and see how bias is showing up in the world around you.
  • The business world was built by and to work for a small segment of the population, which is predominantly male and white. Bias is hardwired in the system and often leaders are perpetuating this biased system.
  • The Inclusive Leader Continuum has 4 stages: (1) Unaware – people don’t think there is a problem, I’m not responsible, and/or I think diversity is important and that’s enough. (2) Aware – understand that not everyone is bringing their full self to work, actively trying to learn about the experiences of others, putting yourself in new/uncomfortable situations. (3) Active – you chose to use your knowledge and learnings, make different decisions and use different language, be public about your journey and seek feedback, take risks and be willing to make mistakes, apologize when you do or say something that misses the mark. (4) Advocate – work towards system change, advocate for and lift up others, work publically and behind the scenes.
  • When you activate your learnings, you will make mistakes and you need to hear the feedback and keep going. You cannot disengage for fear of offending people because by opting out, you are unwilling to learn and are therefore enabling the status quo to continue.
  • We must all contribute to shifting the workplace culture. It cannot only be the responsibility of people who are in the minority.
  • Intent is not the same as impact – to have positive intent but not understand the actual impact of your behaviors and words is the same as being unaware.
  • There is such a narrow vision of what a leader looks like that when we don’t see people “like us” in leadership roles or as our colleagues.
  • Take the free Inclusive Leader Assessment for yourself and with your team:
  • Reflect on how often are you in a room in which you’re the only person who identifies or presents in a particular way? If rarely, we need to put ourselves in those positions more often so we can be a more empathic and inclusive leader.
  • Select areas of diversity that you could learn more about and seek out spaces and sources of learning. Find a trusted ally who can give you feedback and help you reflect and grow on your own journey.
  • Share stories with our colleagues, broaden our understanding of what diversity means, and start bringing more of our full selves to work so that we can live into what actually exists.
  • As a manager, you must role model and be vulnerable in sharing who you are and your journey. You cannot expect others to do if you don’t lead by example.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenniferbrown

Instagram: @jenniferbrownspeaks



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