"We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
What makes people feel included at their workplaces? At Signature Performance, we understand that diverse representation is the key to serving the complex healthcare industry. Respect is one of Signature's organizational core values, meaning we aspire for everyone to feel respected and connected, having a sense of belonging and opportunities to grow their careers. According to the latest research, people managers make the biggest impact when it comes to belonging. What leaders say and do makes up to a 70% difference in whether individuals report feeling included. Therefore, inclusive leadership skills are critical for managers at all levels. After observing organizational behavior over the last decade, here are three focused ways managers (or anyone) can practice being a more inclusive leader that delivers organizational impact.
Become an Empathic Listener
In a recent talk at the 2022 Global Leadership Summit, SHRM CEO Johnny Taylor said, "What the workforce needs is more empathy and less apathy." Empathic listening seeks to get inside the other person's perspective and see the world the way they do. This skill requires the listener to use their eyes, ears, and heart to listen. At Signature Performance, we practice empathy through our bi-annual Associate Engagement Survey. We receive thousands of comments, and key leaders on the executive team read every comment and genuinely work to understand the data by holding follow-up meetings and town hall sessions. By taking the extra step of following up and seeking understanding, we can incorporate the information gathered into business practices.
Adopting a Growth Mindset
A leader with a growth mindset believes that abilities, like muscles, are developed over time with practice. They are more likely to see effort as something that propels learning and see setbacks as opportunities to build new skills. In addition, adopting a growth mindset can be crucial to driving inclusion and diversity efforts. A key initiative Signature launched in the past two years is our Associate Resource Groups (ARGs). Currently, we have five groups: Women's, LGBTQ+, Veterans, Health and Well-Being, and BIPOC. The ARGs provide valuable feedback and provide an outlet for members of the groups to feel connected to the company through inclusive programming and community engagement. Having these fantastic internal groups allows us to expand our ideas on how we make our organization more inclusive and a place of greater belonging for people of all backgrounds. They also help our organization develop leaders because the members can hold leadership roles and become our brand ambassadors for internal and external events.
Embracing the Inherent and Acquired Diversity of Those Around Us
Inherent diversity involves traits you are born with, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Acquired diversity involves traits you gain from life experiences, for example: going to college, working in another country, and becoming a parent.
One of the best ways we can embrace the diversity around us is to celebrate it with intentional actions of allyship and support. At Signature Performance, we embrace our diversity by sponsoring culturally responsive events in the greater Omaha community. Over the past year, we have both sponsored and sent Associates to several conferences and events. To name a few of the organizations, Signature supports the ICAN Conference (women's empowerment), the Rebuilding the Village Conference (Black community empowerment), Veteran’s Day Parade, Wreaths Across America (Veterans empowerment), and the Heartland Pride Festival and Parade (LGBTQ+ empowerment).
The Power of Inclusive Leadership
We have defined some ways we can be inclusive leaders, yet you might be wondering what some benefits are. Based on a 2019 Korn Ferry Institute survey, inclusive leaders:
Enable individuals to feel free to bring their authentic selves to work
Provide individuals with a sense of empowerment to take risks
Reassure individuals that there is equity and fairness and that they should expect to develop their skills through job stretching opportunities
The power of inclusive leadership not only helps the health of teams but also impacts business performance. Corporations identified as more diverse and inclusive are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors (McKinsey) and 70% more likely to capture new markets (HBR). Various teams are 87% better at making decisions when it comes to (People Management). Diverse teams lead to 19% higher revenue (BCG).
As the world continues to grow more connected, the facts remain that a more inclusive leadership team and workplace leads to higher performance and better client experiences.
Learning to become an empathic listener, adopting a growth mindset, and embracing the inherent and acquired diversity of those around us will help everyone become more inclusive in our approach to leadership.
This article was co-authored by our Chief Experience Officer, Mark Mathia, and our Experience Manager of DEIB, Gibril Mansaray.
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