Tips for Becoming an Inclusive Manager

A Twenty-First Century workplace should be diverse and inclusive. The values reflected in this environment will be about valuing people’s differences both visible and non-visible.

These differences can include background, personality, culture and work style in addition to the characteristics that are protected under discrimination legislation in terms of race, disability, gender, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age.

The role of the Inclusive Manager is to harness these differences and to create an environment where people feel valued, and where potential and talent are actively channeled to help deliver the organisational goals.

The following tips will help to you develop yourself as an Inclusive Manager:

  • Be able to explain the importance of diversity and inclusion at work.
  • Actively communicate about the diversity agenda.
  • Actively seek to create an environment where diversity is valued.
  • Develop an understanding about how institutional discrimination can occur and how to challenge it.
  • Lead by example, plan ways to promote diversity in the organisation.
  • Ensure that issues of diversity are considered in policy development and practice.
  • Explore your own values, attitudes, beliefs and prejudices – and their origin.
  • Be aware of your stereotypes and manage them.
  • Consider the impact of your behaviour on others, how sensitive and responsive are you to your impact on others?
  • Be prepared to challenge inappropriate behaviours and comments.

Use an assertive style of behaviour when challenging. You may wish to use the following guidelines:

  • Make it clear what has been said offends you.
  • Do not hide behind statements like ‘other people might find that offensive’.
  • Ask for clarification ‘What did you mean?’.
  • Ask for justification ‘What makes you say that?’.
  • Accept responsibility for your own actions and use ‘I’ statements – I feel (emotion) when you (behaviour). I would prefer that you (alternate behaviour).
  • Challenges do not have to be heavy or argumentative.
  • Do not use humour as this could trivialise the issue and might give the wrong message about how you feel.
  • Ensure that decision making processes are balanced and transparent.
  • Base your decisions on facts not assumptions.
  • Encourage your team to attend diversity training.
  • Encourage an environment of respect.

Create an environment where your team can challenge you and each other to be objective and inclusive.
The potential for subtle or unwitting discrimination is considerable in the recruitment and selection process. Actively ensure that your selection process does not unfairly disadvantage any individual or group.

Be aware of the ‘Halo and Horns’ effect.  Halo – being influenced by experiences you find impressive. Horns – feeling negative about experiences you find alien.

A common bear trap in selection interviews is to make a snap decision about the candidate at the beginning of the interview – perhaps influenced by initial impact of appearance or voice. Watch out for this bear trap.

Here are a few more to be aware of:

  • Do you tend to favour candidates similar to yourself?
  • Do you focus on the individual who will ‘fit in’ with the team?

Reduce the potential for bias to inform your decision making by:

  • Giving yourself time to check information.
  • Seeking the full picture.

Looking to disconfirm a stereotype / pre-disposed view