A foundational component of corporate diversity, equity and inclusion programs is fostering an inclusive environment. A core question in building that environment and the corporate culture that supports it is: What is inclusive leadership?
Research conducted by HBR has identified six behaviors shared by inclusive leaders:
- Visible commitment
- Awareness of bias
- Curiosity about others
- Cultural intelligence
- Effective collaboration
In addition to the intrinsic value and humanity of inclusion, the research has shown that that inclusion directly enhances performance. Anyone who has positively participated in sports or other supportive team environments, inherently knows this to be true. High performing teams are by nature inclusive in their sense of belonging, of working towards shared goals and of mutual respect.
When those factors are lacking, both individual and team performance suffer. A key to inclusive leadership and the success of teams is often providing channels for enhanced awareness, feedback and training.
Inclusiveness isn’t just nice to have on teams. Our research shows that it directly enhances performance. Teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively. What’s more, we found that a 10% improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost 1 day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.