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Why I Believe 2022 Is the Year for Inclusive Leadership



We don’t see many models of inclusive leadership in practice.

But I believe — and hope — that will change in 2022.

Last week I shared one of my 2022 inclusion predictions on LinkedIn. The TL;DR version is that more leaders will embrace personal accountability — out loud.

I have one more prediction to share with you: that more leaders will hold themselves — and each other — accountable. (If you’re curious for an example, keep reading!)

(What I would love to see too, though I’m not holding my breath, is accountability from a place of openness and generosity, rather than the “gotcha” type we often see in the media! More calling in rather than calling out.)

And when I say leaders, I’m not only talking about the C-Suite. Leaders of departments, teams, Employee Resource Groups, managers, volunteer organizations, and networking groups have power and privilege they can deploy to ensure people of all identities and backgrounds are welcome. Tim Ryan has several terrific examples of corporate leader accountability.

So yes, I’m looking to business leaders, but I’m also looking to you and me.

Anti-racist, gender-balanced inclusive work environments won’t create themselves. This is a critical area of opportunity and impact for leaders to drive. (And within our spheres of influence we can all be leaders for this.)



How?

Well first, leaders must do internal work to build greater self-awareness, cultivate a growth mindset and educate themselves about how bias shows up in the workplace. Second, they must acknowledge — and practice! — the same personal actions required to mitigate bias that we all must undertake in our communities.

I’m talking about:

  1. Can we take a critical look at our own social circle and be honest with ourselves about the diversity among our nearest and dearest? Are we only interacting with people like us? How can we change that meaningfully?

  2. What type of media do we consume? Are we only consuming media by white people for white people, or are we actively seeking out perspectives from underestimated people in our community too?

  3. Are we pronouncing names correctly, or if our name gets mispronounced constantly, correcting others to get it right? How do we deal with unfamiliarity?

I also expect to see greater demands of leadership accountability on inclusion from current employees, prospective employees and contractors, shareholders, customers, competitors and society in general.

And frankly? It’s more than time!

But I want to say too (and I said this on LinkedIn, but it bears repeating) that if you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of embracing your accountability and then, well, making a mistake, there’s nothing wrong with you — in fact, you’re human.

It’s easy to feel daunted by a challenge as all-encompassing as meaningful, sustainable inclusion. The mindset shift we must make over and over is this: it’s not a matter of choosing the “best” or “right” course of action, but choosing AN action. I lay out more of these in my book, Inclusion on Purpose (which will be in your hands on March 1st!).

It has actionable advice for organizations and individuals alike.

I often have to remind myself that when it comes to progress, “perfect is the enemy of good.” Well, perfect action doesn’t exist, especially in imperfect situations and in the face of huge challenges like systemic racism and sexism.

But if we all take consistent, committed, “pretty good” action… imagine the world of difference we could make!

How do you hold yourself — and others — accountable to taking inclusive action?


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