How To Modernise Leadership For Racial Inclusion

 How To Modernise Leadership For Racial Inclusion

By Carmen Morris

It goes without saying that inclusive leadership will support more inclusive organisations, but are leaders prepared to make the hard decisions necessary to adapt to the realities of inclusion?

Modernising leadership, in the face of a new age of racial equality, will inevitably require changes to the composition of leadership teams. This doesn’t mean loss of power for those who may instantly feel threatened about their positions. Rather, it means becoming more inclusive around leadership makeup, and support for Black and Brown employees.

Organisational activity to dismantle racism will necessarily involve work at leadership level to address how it approaches diversity, and inclusion, within its own ranks.

The death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter campaign, whilst highlighting the concerns of Black people and their allys, in relation to racial equality, has made some demands of leadership, which they should not ignore.

Making The Case for Inclusive Leadership

It is a sad fact that there still remains an under-representation of race and ethnicity within leadership and whilst much has been written about the business case for diversity, the lacklustre response from leadership has been the focus of many a debate.

Is leadership really being introspective and making a case for inclusive leadership, in light of current concerns around its racial exclusive makeup?

The benefits of inclusive leadership are many, and has a significant impact on people management and business performance activities. Whilst reducing the negative connotations associated with the conformance to ideologies of race within leadership, inclusion, at leadership level, also helps to embed a culture of learning across organizational priorities.

Modernising leadership, to make it more authentically inclusive, is the first step to creating a culture that embraces diversity at its core.

Your Employees Are Your First Customers

Employees are the first customers of a business. They are the body of productivity that support leaders to generate external customers and profit.

When leadership values its employees as their first customers, it becomes easier to increase levels of employee engagement. Increased levels of customer satisfaction will also add value to the inclusive agenda. If your employees are satisfied, then so too will be your external clients and customers.

The goal is to enable end to end inclusive practice and it starts with leadership.

Since the death of George Floyd, the continuing messaging around racial inclusion as a call to action, has gathered momentum. Leaders of many organizations have made statements around the necessity to build racial inclusion into the framework of business operations.

It is now time to modernise leadership, by making it more supportive of inclusion, both in its mindset and its actions. The ultimate goal is to create inclusive leadership platforms that will help to shape not only the voice of leadership, but its very composition. Leadership must take into account, the most basic of principles of having a leadership that is, itself inclusive.

How many organisations have held seminars around race with their employees recently, with an all white panel from leadership espousing the virtues of race equality? Not only does it comes across as disingenuous, as a visual representation of race equality, it also tells a more poignant tale of the need to address imbalances.

Race equality must be built policies, strategies and activities that will increase engagement, and governance, around race equality, as a core theme of operational excellence. This will add value to leadership relationships with employees, as customers, and help to harness racial inclusivity, within its core.

Get Your House In Order

Many workplaces have begun to define the first steps, along the journey towards racial equity. These journeys must reside within a template of inclusive governance, that first supports the building of equitable relationships between organizations and their internal customers (employees).

Leadership must be willing to step away from its comfort zone and examine the realities of racial inequality in a root and branch way. As uncomfortable as this may be, it must be achieved.

Getting this right, will enable increased engagement, on an equitable basis for employees. The old adage of ‘get your house in order’ is instructive here.

A statement on racial inclusion as a knee jerk reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests, will not be enough to support the needs of Black employees. Neither will it be pacify calls for racial equality.

Towards An Inclusive Future and Beyond

Modern leadership must encompass a variety of people and relevant skills in order to develop an inclusive workplace environment and customer base. It goes without saying that this is the task for any company that seeks to authentically engage with inclusion as a brand benefit.

No longer can leadership replicate its own image while making statements about diversity and inclusion. The Black Lives Matter movement, and your Black employees, have called for an end to this disingenuous practice.

Neither will a ‘one and done’ policy of co-opting a Black or Brown person onto the board in an effort to appear inclusive meet the requirements of the agenda. The delivery of these tokenistic gestures of yesteryear and actions to placate Black employees and their allies, will not suffice. 

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Originally posted on Forbes

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