Critical Inclusion Leadership

Since June of 2013, we’ve been talking about The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off by Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan with an emphasis on how SDMWVBE (Small, Disadvantaged, Minority, Women, or Veteran Business Enterprise) business owners might benefit from their insights. Chapter eight discusses four areas of competency leaders must master “…in order to create sustainable inclusion”.  If we agree that investing in diversity and inclusion — in an increasingly diverse, global marketplace — provides a return to our businesses, then we SDMWVBE leaders should be developing key skills in ourselves, our management team and throughout our organizations.

Kaplan and Donovan identify four key areas of competency:

  • Individual Awareness & Self-Management;
  • Embracing the Paradox of Individuality & Group Identity;
  • Envisioning & Framing Positive Change;
  • Fostering True Meritocracy.

The authors suggest that “as a leader, you should simultaneously build trust with people different from you and challenge the people closest to you” as a formula for building an inclusive culture. In awareness and self-management, we have to do more than say the right things, our behavior has to match our words. Much like we watched and mimicked our role models while becoming adults and leaders, our organizational teams watch and learn from us. And, generally, they will learn more from our actions rather than our lectures.

Envisioning how we want our organizations to operate, planning for those positive changes that will help our organizations recognize, incorporate and celebrate true meritocracy is a process.  Inclusion and diversity, like quality, is fundamentally a process of continuous improvement. Chapter eight offers guidance that can help us build a road map toward our goals for diversity and inclusion.