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Leadership Expectations—Diversity, Inclusivity, Respect and Transparency

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Khadijia White-Thomas
September 16, 2022

“The value of a diverse team is its capacity to challenge the norm or group thinking and thus boost organizational performance and improve decision making.” —Yrthya Dinzey-Flores

There must be ongoing communication to encourage diverse working relationships. Without diverse working relationships, there is a detrimental impact on organizations, followers and others who will lack the exposure and experiences derived from the richness of differences in our civilization.

Leadership Expectations—Diversity

“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” —Maya Angelou

This article discusses the importance of leadership communication and action pertaining to the perspectives of diversity, inclusivity, respect and transparency in the workplace. Addressing these four areas in the workplace will provide leaders the opportunity to deliver actions beyond just thoughts and propose resolutions. Through awareness of these four leadership expectations, leaders can intentionally offer action that reinforces that everyone belongs in the workplace, as a team member, and has a seat at the table.

In this context, diversity refers to individuals who may differ in culture, values, age, gender, education, religion, marital status, disability or occupation. Research on diversity suggests that having a diverse workforce demonstrates cultural competence and acceptance of different perspectives and experiences, encourages multicultural relationship building and organizational goals and sustainability are improved. Also, diversity may present significant innovation with products and services and a competitive advantage as well. Diversity is the combination of our differences and views based on our life experiences.

Leadership Expectations—Inclusivity

“Diversity is the mix. Inclusivity is making the mix work.” —Andres Tapia

In this writing, inclusivity is defined as considering the identities, preferences, viewpoints and expressions of individuals and allowing individuals to contribute collectively. An inclusive workplace promotes a workforce of diverse individuals from different cultural backgrounds. Challenges and conflicts will continue to emerge when there is a lack of concern or an absence of commitment to recognizing inclusivity’s importance. Displaying a lack of concern breeds workplace discrimination, stereotyping and the notion that differences among particular individuals and specific groups are not appreciated or welcomed.

Leadership Expectations—Respect

A standard definition for respect is “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something, a positive feeling or action shown and a regard for a person’s right or traditions.” With respect defined in these terms, a lack of respect within the workplace and among the workforce as it pertains to diversity and inclusivity, could be viewed as a form of institutionalized disregard of others based on gender, racial and ethnic differences. A lack of respect may result in biases toward others and negative perceptions. Obviously, any type of bias can negatively impact engagement efforts with particular individuals and specific groups in the workplace.

Additionally, in the workplace, any downplay of respect may appear as acceptance of antiquated organizational interactions and unintentionally silence acceptance of cultural competence and respect for multicultural relationships. Research on diversity and inclusivity further expounds on the fact that unconscious and subconscious forces affect perceptions, attitudes and behaviors, which, when carried into the workplace, can negatively impact diversity and inclusivity goals. When there is a lack of respect, all multiculturalism efforts may be erased by biases or prejudices affecting employee morale, workforce outcomes, organizational goals and sustainability.

Leadership Expectations—Transparency

“When it comes to something as multilayered as diversity, none of us is an expert. We can always be doing something more.” —Jennifer Brown, How To Be An Inclusive Leader

How do leaders initiate transparency within the organization? Much of the work may require influence in the workplace culture and the requisite need to change archaic organizational practices. With truth in transparency, there shall be no resistance, intentional or subtle. To eradicate resistance, leaders must begin to hold conversations and ask questions to build accountability into every improvement process for diversity, inclusivity and respect. What does that framework for dialogue look like? What does the dialogue framework address? What will the framework for dialogue achieve? The role of leadership transparency is to start by analyzing the workplace: assess the makeup of the staff and the respective roles that are held. Also, leaders may wish to seek out advocates in the workplace: identify individuals that are open to discussing diversity, inclusivity and respect and create the space for sharing to occur. Lastly, share the vision, highlight the goals and celebrate the wins!

Leadership Expectations—Work To Be Accomplished

If leadership expectations involving diversity, inclusivity, respect and transparency are genuinely addressed, the workplace and the workforce can be positively impacted. Through the efforts of diversity, inclusivity, respect and transparency:

  • Leaders debunk stereotypical myths about ethnicity.
  • Leaders formally address biased views and attitudes.
  • Leaders speak not only the words that offer empathy but provide action beyond general thoughts.
  • Leaders seek continued resolution to standing and stagnant limitations. Leaders must begin to hold conversations, ask questions and assess their workforce to determine particular individuals and specific groups that are absent.

Author: Dr. Khadijia White-Thomas works in the federal courts as an executive leader. She is also the Founder and CEO of Decree Consulting & Publishing, LLC, focusing on organizational change, and providing business coaching, strategy, and marketing consulting services. Contact Dr. Khadijia at www.decreeconsult.com.

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