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In today’s dynamic and diverse world, organizations are increasingly recognizing the immense value of Inclusive Leadership. It has gone beyond just a polished term, and proven its importance in the way we have been living and breathing.

What exactly is inclusive leadership, and how can leaders cultivate it in our way of life?

Creating the culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents, regardless of their background, gender, and ethnicity.

Beyond one’s differences or perspectives, it is about leveraging the core talents and experiences of individuals for collective success.

Think of it like an orchestra; each instrument, with its distinct sound and character, contributes to the overall symphony. A skilled conductor understands the strengths of each instrument and orchestrates them seamlessly to create a harmonious and powerful performance.

Similarly, in an inclusive team, every individual brings their unique talents and experiences to the table, and the leader fosters an environment where these diverse perspectives can blend into something truly remarkable.

I would like to share an experience here. Years ago, with my first child on the way, a VP of my company congratulated me and inquired about my plan to balance parenthood with work. Eager to prove my commitment and dedication, I expressed my intention to work until the ninth month and resume immediately postpartum. However, he gently countered, explaining the inevitable life change and the pull of my child, even at work. He emphasized prioritizing the child, highlighting the valuable lessons in empathy, time management, and perspective – assets in both life and work.

I was blessed with such leaders who were inclusive even before the world realized the need of it.

How can we become inclusive individuals before leading others?

1. Embrace Self-Awareness – am I a biased individual?

The journey begins with understanding our biases. We all have them, whether conscious or unconscious.

Ask yourself: would your response be different to male team member vs female member? Would you differentiate on parameter of ethnicity in giving an opportunity?

Being aware of biases within you is first step. Start looking at everyone with same glass, put your perspective aside and listen. This is the fist and crucial step towards recognizing and mitigating these biases.

2. Cultivate Psychological Safety

Creating a safe space where individuals feel comfortable sharing their ideas, even if they differ from the majority, is essential. It enables people in asking questions, admitting mistakes, and offering constructive criticism without fear of negative consequences.

Ask yourself: Do you take pride in being known as “tough boss”? Do you share stories about how your team is scared to ask you for time-offs?

A safe workplace, leads to increased employee engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty.

3. Actively seek out and value diverse perspectives

In decision-making processes, a leader’s role is ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table, their voices heard, and their contributions recognized. Decision based on diverse perspective are always proven better for organizations’ growth.

Ask yourself: Does most silent person in your team share her feedback? Do you proactively ask a shy intern about what he thought of the presentations?

4. Celebrate Differences

Encourage open dialogue about diverse cultures, backgrounds, and experiences within your team to develop understanding and appreciation. A team that shares meals, bonds on a personal level, has trust, rapport, and a sense of belonging towards each other.

Ask yourself: How much are you aware about ethnic diversity in your team? Do you wish your team members on important festivals of their culture?

5. Champion Equity and Fairness

Ensure equal access to opportunities and resources for all team members, regardless of their background, gender, or any other factor. This includes providing support for career development, training, and mentorship opportunities. This enhances organizational performance and attracts top talent.

Ask yourself: Do you actively work with individual to set their goals as per their competency? Do you provide career plan suited to his/her personal focus area at that moment?

6. Lead by Example

Demonstrate your commitment to inclusivity through your actions and behaviors. Be an active role model, advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives, and hold yourself and others accountable for creating a truly inclusive environment.

Ask yourself: Will you openly advocate inclusiveness within your team and organization?

Embracing inclusive leadership is not a one-time event; it’s a continuous journey of learning, growth, and adaptation.

How can we keep the momentum?

Remember: Inclusive leadership is a continuous journey, not a destination. It requires commitment, effort, and self-reflection from leaders at all levels.

Building an ongoing learning and development process for yourself and your team on inclusion will yield the benefits such as increased innovation, improved decision-making, enhanced employee engagement, and a more positive and productive work environment.

In today’s competitive landscape, embracing inclusivity is no longer a choice; it’s the key to unlocking sustainable success and thriving in the ever-evolving world of work.


    Anaya Bakshi, Associate Director, Engineeringn at GS Lab

Anaya is an Associate Director, Engineeringn at GS Lab | GAVS, with 19 years of experience. She has been leading a high-performing team working with Networking customers like Arista and F5 Networks.

She is a saree connoisseur and her other hobbies include reading, singing, gardening.