The importance of inclusive leadership

Inclusiveness isn’t just a nice-to-have. Having a diverse workforce with people from various educational, cultural and racial backgrounds fosters a range of alternative skills, opinions and approaches. Coupled with employees of differing experience levels and those who’ve worked in other businesses and sectors, this creates a unique environment where different viewpoints can be utilised to great effect, leading to more diverse innovation and business routes which may not otherwise have been considered.

Getting a mixed and diverse group to perform at their peak, however, requires strong leadership, not just for communicating team goals, but also on a personal level, allowing employees to feel respected, valued and therefore confident of their contribution.

Why is this so important?

  1. Generational diversity is expanding
    We’re now fitter and living longer than ever before, which means as young people finish education and come into the workplace, there are still plenty of people from the older generations still working. Longer careers mean a greater mix of ages that need to work together.
  2. To attract, retain, and engage millennials
    With new expectations and values placed on careers, millennials are challenging the traditional workplace and paving the way for a generation that expect far more from a job than just remuneration. More than half of millennials value inclusivity so highly, they’d quit jobs and change companies if they didn’t believe their current boss was inclusive enough – and nearly a third have already done so.  A survey conducted with over 19,000 working millennials across 25 countries showed that new opportunities, better work life balance, a clear career path and recognition from managers and peers are more highly regarded by millennials than money.
  3. To unlock innovation
    Non-diverse teams often share too close a common culture or mindset, so can tend to approach problems from a similar angle and not considering things ‘outside the box’. Diverse teams can approach a problem from different angles, and 85% of businesses believe that diversity plays a big part in the most innovative or unexpected ideas.  It’s these differences in work ethic and world view between millennials and Gen Z, for example, that can truly help businesses; millennials are multi-taskers and have been described as educated, positive about tech, people-orientated, environmentally conscious, and progressive; while Gen Z is ambitious, tech savvy and entrepreneurial. Inclusive leaders can leverage this diversity to be more innovative.
  4. To outperform the competition
    Recent research has shown that companies with inclusive practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership, and team management generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors. Diverse teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report that they are high performing, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively; while a 10% improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost 1 day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.
  5. Remote working and a global workforce
    Globalisation has made the world a smaller place, bringing customers and businesses together – meaning that your employees not only need to be sensitive to differences between national boundaries but also understand and work within them. Having employees that speak multiple languages helps to build international relationships, therefore increasing the chances of successfully opening foreign markets.

With today’s business leaders operating in an increasingly complex global environment, the suite of 100% online Leadership and Management MScs from the University of York could be invaluable. Designed to build practical leadership skills and knowledge while      developing a theoretical understanding of the business environment, the courses cover three key disciplines, innovation, finance, and international business. All of these help to develop the distinct skills required for effective leadership across industries, functions and roles.

The course is delivered 100% online and is designed for study at your own pace. You can choose to carry on in your existing career and fit studies around other commitments too. Six start dates a year, flexible payment options, and postgraduate government loans for those that are eligible, add to its flexibility.

Find out more and begin your application.