Leadership Through Growth: A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Approach

February 15, 2022

Kelsey Maddox, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Specialist

This year, I was promoted to Blend360's first-ever Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion role, focusing on talent acquisition for our Talent Solutions division. The promotion was a big step for myself and my personal growth and growth for the company and our leadership team. It's critical for leadership to have a growth mindset to advance the company and the workforce. "The growth mindset is simply accepting that we can always improve, learn from mistakes and carry on" (Forbes, 2019). Having the dedication from leadership to initiate DEI goals was a major (and necessary) step in the right direction to be a leading company in the DEI space. The growth in Blend360 impacts the company and employees, and diverse communities that we work with and support.

Leadership through growth, is growth for the company culture and employees. A company can only grow if the leaders and decision-makers embrace change and progress. Diversity, equity, and inclusion has become more crucial for organizations to incorporate into their vision, objectives, and culture. Employees look to their leaders and management to support initiatives to help their department and company. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are initiatives that employees look for to feel included in the workplace and know that their voice matters. What leaders say and do makes up to a 70% difference in whether individual reports feeling included. And this really matters because the more people feel included, the more they speak up, go the extra mile, and collaborate. All of which ultimately lifts organizational performance (Harvard Business Review, 2020).

Having inclusive leaders creates a space where employees feel valued, respected, represented and a sense of belonging. Leadership that drives growth within DEI has traits in common: visible commitment, humility, awareness of bias, curiosity about others, cultural intelligence, and effective collaboration. This may sound like a general profile of someone in a leadership role, but it is especially important for leaders who want to grow to enable DEI to combine these attributes. In my opinion, awareness of bias and humility are the most important for leadership through growth.

Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, bias is something that we experience when working with others. The best way to overcome bias is to be aware of our biases and challenge them. According to the Harvard Business Review, when a leader constantly challenges their own bias and encourages others to be aware of their pre-conceived leanings, that creates and fosters growth. Or when a leader seeks insight into their biases by, for example, asking others to test whether their thought process is biased in any way (2020). From my experience in my current role and previous leadership roles, is that recognizing your unconscious bias coupled with other attributes leads to better leadership, team development, collaboration, and belonging.

How do leaders take the opportunity to grow in DEI and make an impact on the company? In my experience at Blend360, our senior leadership has supported our DEI council's growth, which led to the creation of my new role. Senior leadership recognized the importance of DEI within the company and a duty to our clients and consultants. Our goal is to create a work environment where everyone knows they have a seat at the table. Our consultants see representation and that Blend360 is dedicated to the advancement of underrepresented groups. Leadership through growth trickles down to growth for all employees.

Ower, L. 2019. Forbes. How To Develop The Right Mindset To Become A Growth Leader. Retrieved

from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2019/02/01/how-to-develop-the-right-mindset-to-become-a-growth-leader/?sh=56bc8e714174

Jamal, N. & Tschida, T., 2021. GALLUP. 3 Actions forLeaders to Improve DEI in the Workplace. Retrieved

from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/348266/actions-leaders-improve-dei-workplace.aspx

Bourke, J. & Titus, A., 2020. Harvard Business Review. TheKey to Inclusive Leadership. Retrieved from:

https://hbr.org/2020/03/the-key-to-inclusive-leadership#:~:text=Inclusive%20leadership%20is%20a%20critical,markets%2C%20customers%2C%20and%20talent.&text=Not%20only%20are%20these%20behaviors,more%20included%20along%20the%20way.

RELATED POSTS