How to Build Inclusive Leaders

Who is responsible for championing DEIB work in your organization?

It’s no longer HR’s job, it’s everyone’s!

Last week, we were joined by 3 extraordinary DEIB experts who shared their experience championing DEIB values in change-averse institutions like state treasuries, civic boards, and multi-billion dollar companies.

In an effort to become more inclusive leaders, we’re sharing the key lessons from this panel with you today.

How Do You Recognize An Inclusive Leader?

Everyone in your organization from the CEO to a front-line service employee can be an inclusive leader. The size of your sphere of influence is less important than how you choose to influence. Here are 6 traits to adopt as an inclusive leader:

6 signature traits of inclusive leaders dei

The 6 traits explained:


  • Commitment believing in the work and dedicating to the vision of DEIB values, regardless of challenges
  • Curiosity – opening the door to connection with self and others by being authentically curious and okay with making mistakes
  • Cultural Competency–  ability to stay open, and learn about different experiences and perspectives, create space for cultural self-expression
  • Collaborative Spirit –  generosity, leaning in and ability to work well with others on meaningful work
  • Awareness– the ability to sense what’s needed to deepen commitment, create space for safety, expression, curiosity, develop cultural competency, and amplify collaborative spiritCourage- ability to create and foster brave and open spaces for dialogue, connection, and learning and growth


Getting Team Buy-In on DEIB Values and Efforts

Integrating DEIB values is about more than a policy or public-facing values. It’s about living those values before they’re written down.

ACTION: Frame the conversation around DEIB in your organization. Inclusivity is not a box to tick, but an ongoing cultural shift. By changing the conversation from “attend this workshop” to “these are the principles we live by,” you’re changing the mindset from compliance to real commitment. Think about how you currently live your values.



Overcoming The Fear of Mistakes

Have the courage to implement imperfectly. You do NOT have to get everything right before you do it. Just like everything new, practice leads to familiarity and accomplishment.

ACTION: Teach how to hold teams accountable and give feedback through an inclusive lens. The ones who are seeing these issues first hand are able to handle the conflicts, yet they’re the ones who are most likely to avoid it because they don’t know how to handle it. Name what you are noticing and ask others if they are noticing the same.

Give your teams an inclusive lens to carry out everyday functions like performance reviews, task delegation, meeting etiquette etc. and give them permission to do it imperfectly, with a learner’s mindset.



Start With These 3 Steps If You’re At The Very Beginning

ACTION #1: Focus on you as an individual rather than the organization.

How you think about and live DEIB values outside of work is how they will define inclusivity in your company. Being an ally is not about ‘getting it right’, it is a journey of learning and more importantly practicing. Giving yourself permission to simply engage is an important step.

ACTION #2: Build your competency, courage, and commitment.

Examine your sphere of influence and see where you can call out or introduce DEIB principles. Even micro-moments are a great place to start. Plant seeds however you can. Invite diverse voices on your team to contribute, ask questions, create space for diverse contributions. It doesn’t need to be organization-wide change to begin with.

ACTION #3: Your personal network affects how you implement DEIB at work.

Take inventory of your trusted circle outside of work and how that became incubated for you. Find ways to broaden your personal connections so you’re not living in an echo chamber. Try exploring different cultural groups on social media to get an immersive look at another culture that’s not your own.


Guiding Your Organization Towards Inclusive Leadership

Tune in to DEIB experts Wendy Horng Brawer, Nikki Lanier, and Mindy Gulati and hear how to develop inclusive leadership in your organization.

UP NEXT: Overcoming Your Greatest DEIB Implementation Challenges

On the live webinar we took a poll all the HR leaders on the call:

What are your greatest challenges to leading your organization towards inclusive leadership?

The top 3 results:

  1. Breaking through institutionalized barriers (66%)
  2. Getting buy-in from key stakeholders (39%)
  3. Overcoming the fear of making mistakes/doing harm (35%)

In our next article, we will provide detailed solutions to these challenges.

If you’ve been facing any of these in your own work – don’t miss it!


Taking Your DEIB Strategy To The Next Level

Whether you’re beginning the DEIB conversation in your organization, or refining your strategy, Wendy can help bring your team on board with your work. Reach out for a FREE consultation at wendy@intunecollective.com.