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Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are not boxes to check so that your company stays relevant. You have to figure out your why. Why is diversity important to you? Why should there be diversity within a company? Within a leadership team?


Why is Diversity in Leadership Important


Multiple perspectives


People with different lived experiences think differently based on that experience. Multiple perspectives bring innovative ideas, solutions and problem-solving abilities. Different perspectives also bring an ability to relate to and understand various experiences among employees in the workplace. The idea here is that everyone experiences life differently, intense problems for some are non-existent for others, and multiple perspectives allow for a broader scope of accessibility and applicability when making decisions that affect an entire workplace.


Increased empathy


When folks have lived through certain situations, they bring the knowledge of navigating that situation to their leadership abilities. Being heard, validated, and understood are important pieces of the psychological safety puzzle; leaders who understand what their employees might be going through can bring this to the workplace.


Improved performance


Diverse teams are better equipped to understand the needs of their employees. This can lead to better retention and less turnover. Feeling like your leadership team represents your experience gives people a stronger sense of psychological safety. When people feel psychologically safe, they do better work.


How to Encourage it


Intentionality


When looking at leadership potential, bias can creep in. Being intentional about who you are bringing onto your team is important. Nepotism plays a significant role in recruitment and hiring practices. Friends and family members of current employees can be great additions to the workplace, but it can also mean you are only looking in one direction for who to promote or hire for a leadership position.


Training


Technical Training

Opening the door to training opportunities is a big step in the right direction. By creating an open invitation for employees to attend a training session, individuals who may have yet to consider leadership can explore the responsibilities associated with the role. This can reshape their perspectives on what is possible.


People Skills Training

Training leaders on justice, equity, diversity and inclusion helps broaden this knowledge within the group and enables leaders to learn about their biases and knowledge gaps. Providing this training to your team also sends a direct message that it is important.


Creating a psychologically safe working environment


When people don’t see themselves represented in leadership, they might feel like decisions aren’t made with them in mind. Advocating for psychological safety in the workplace can help folks from systemically marginalized communities feel comfortable stepping into leadership roles. Actively addressing microaggressions, bias, and discrimination promotes safety for everyone by not allowing seemingly ‘minute’ issues to go unchecked. The larger goal is to cultivate emotional intelligence skills within the leadership team.


 

To wrap up, this takes work. It takes dedication and commitment. However, taking a small first step is better than taking no step. This work takes practice. Learning new things and striving to improve takes time and energy, but when this work is prioritized, the rewards are high.



Resources


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Why Diversity in Leadership is Important and How to Encourage It

Diversity is a hot topic and has the potential to be a buzzword when engaged in something other than a meaningful way.

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