The Role of Leadership in Creating an Inclusive Workplace Culture

News, Views

By Rachel Ridings, Culture Champion & Recruiter and Chair of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging (DEI&B)

Last week, I attended a Human Resources seminar and one of the speakers, Fred Falker, spoke on the role of
leadership in creating an inclusive culture in the workplace. I was ready to take notes and learn as much as possible so that I could bring it back to Provident.

Well, let me tell you that I didn’t expect his first talking point was going to be about how part of my role here at Provident and the DEI&B work that has been happening across the nation in recent years has cost billions of dollars but hasn’t been working. By not working, I mean to say that despite the activities, emails, celebrations, groups, etc., people are still feeling that they don’t belong in their workplaces. While I do believe those things are important in helping each other learn and grow, I can understand how activity doesn’t necessarily move the inclusivity needle.  So my question to myself was, “What more can I do to help create an inclusive culture at Provident?”

Fred presented a slide about what an inclusive workplace culture is and what employees feel when they are a part of such a culture.

It stated: “An inclusive culture is one in which employees:

  • Feel their leaders care about them
  • Know what they do matters
  • Are proud to be a part of the organization
  • Feel a sense of ownership in their work
  • Care for and about others in the workplace
  • Feel psychologically safe to show up as they are
  • Feel like they belong

I think we can all agree that having all of those things is critically important to having an enjoyable workplace that we all want to come to every day. So how do we get there? What I took away from this talk is that if we model these behaviors to each other every day, we will get to an inclusive culture. 

Fred’s talk really focused on leaders in our organizations being intentionally inclusive. My hope is that all of our employees feel empowered to be leaders in their roles/areas and implement some of the behaviors that Fred highlighted in his Inclusive Leader Playbook:

  • Reduce emotional distance
  • Connect with employees
  • Act courageously; be vulnerable
  • Venture out of your comfort zone
  • Listen and listen some more
  • Ask questions for understanding
  • Let others be right
  • Confront issues that harm team members
  • Give up the illusion of control
  • Acknowledge and recognize people
  • Prepare everyone to lead

Acting on these behaviors at every level of the agency opens the door for everyone to fully embrace their authentic selves in and outside of the workplace which ultimately leads to an inclusive culture and a workplace where people feel like they belong.

So my challenge to you is to take one of the above actions and focus on how you can incorporate it into your work life and routines. 

Would you like to acknowledge and recognize more? A thank you email sent off to a co-worker who helped you is a quick and easy way to accomplish this. Want to do more than that? Email me and we can discuss a fun way to recognize them. Would you like to be more vulnerable? The next time someone asks how you are, be honest and not just respond with a quick “I’m good.” 

I would love to hear your ideas on what else we could be doing to make sure that we can confidently say that Provident has an inclusive culture. Please feel free to reach out!