Today's leaders are required to be more connected and responsive to the issues of diversity and inclusion, not in terms of lip service or feigned action, but with true dedication and sustained commitment. As globalization expands, many acclaimed leaders have failed to cultivate inclusive workplaces that inspire and empower talent and foster a sense of engagement and belonging among their employees
About this event
Today's leaders are required to be more connected and responsive to the issues of diversity and inclusion, not in terms of lip service or feigned action, but with true dedication and sustained commitment. However, as globalization expands, many acclaimed leaders have failed to cultivate inclusive workplaces that inspire and empower talent and foster a sense of engagement and belonging among their employees. Having an inclusive workplace is not a question anymore. However, companies have different levels of success at achieving it. To shed light on this vital topic, as a part of Venture Cafe Warsaw's Thursday Gathering and in partnership with Startup Grind Warsaw, I am going to moderate a panel discussion on "How to build and manage an inclusive company" with a great lineup of speakers:
Diana Florescu, Managing Partner at Grai Ventures
Aga Osytek, Founder at Deaf Respect
Lidka Nwolisa, Executive Coach. D&I Expert at Coach U Poland
At thirty3, we value diversity, and inclusiveness is at the core of our organization. However, we face numerous challenges and complications at the implementation level. Ahead of the event, I try to open the floor to our speakers and audience to challenge the problems and provide practical and actionable solutions to make our companies more inclusive. In this path, employers, leaders, and managers have to work hand in hand. Here are a few points that we all should consider:
Emphasize the business case for diversity and inclusion. There are many reasons why global workplaces must change. Central and Eastern European countries are changing demographically due to the transition from closed economies to the worldwide attraction of talent and opportunities. Consequently, companies need diverse leaders who reflect the changing marketplace. Recent research at Harvard shows that when workplace teams reflect their target customers, the entire team is more than twice as likely to innovate effectively for their end-users.
Recognize bias. No matter how well-prepared women are, they won’t get a seat at the table unless those at the table allow them to pull up a chair. That goes even further in the case of women of color. Companies can take steps to make this happen. One multinational company, for example, developed a leadership program that puts high-potential employees on the management track and targets the supervisors who select the candidates. In de-biasing training, supervisors learned to recognize and control their inclinations to nominate candidates similar to themselves and instead acknowledge great minority candidates. Minority employees who participated in this reported feeling more engaged and better positioned for advancement opportunities. More importantly, their supervisors committed to offering these women leadership opportunities within one year.
Practice inclusive leadership. Leaders need to create a safe team environment where all employees can speak up, be heard, and feel welcome. They should embrace the input of employees whose backgrounds or expertise differ from their own, foster collaboration among diverse staff, ask questions of all team members, facilitate constructive arguments, give actionable feedback, and act upon the advice of various employees. In addition, leaders can make the minority feel valued and included by prizing authenticity over conformity and operating from an understanding that a range of presentation and communication styles can succeed in the workplace.
Provide sponsorship programs. Corporations such as American Express have created programs that accelerate the progress of inclusive workplaces by pairing them with more experienced sponsors who help them learn the ropes — not just in their first weeks or months on the job but over the long haul. Our research shows that a mentor’s advice is not enough; a sponsor’s meaningful advocacy makes all the difference. Included VC and Experior VC are great examples of changing a male-dominated workplace into a diverse and inclusive company.
If businesses are to grow and thrive now and in the future, it’s imperative to elevate the level of inclusivity and eliminate institutional barriers to their success. To do this, business leaders must intentionally address the relentless underlying issues that lead to discrimination and continue to hinder minorities from finding their place in society. In addition, we must unleash all talent and, in the process, create more profit, equity, and a better world