Being an inclusive workplace doesn’t happen on its own. It takes a growth mindset, lots of training and continuous effort over time to make an organisation sustain its diversity and make it work. That’s why there’s a strong need to develop a structured mentoring program to coach and mentor leaders and their employees on what it means to be inclusive.
Such a program helps develop the careers of all your employees, holistically, while helping them retain their differences and bring their voice to the table.
What type of coaching & mentoring does your company require to be inclusive?
Leaders need to be trained on specific areas to be more inclusive. And inclusion covers a wide range of different skill sets, which includes:
Learning how to manage people with disabilities: Leaders may have no background in leading people that have disabilities. This requires specialised training, as it takes a lot of skill, patience, empathy and care to support disabled employees find a working solution that is tailored to their unique circumstances.
Dealing with gender gaps and other diversity issues: Each person in your organisation is different in their own unique way. You might have employees with a different sexual orientation or have more males than females working for you. Leaders must develop the skills to understand diversity issues in more detail and learn how to leverage them for the company’s greater good.
Battling racism: An organisation that’s diverse will experience racism among their employees, especially when there are majority and minority groups involved. Because racism is such a sensitive issue, and there are so many ways in which it is ‘masked’, managing it to uncover it, and then minimising it takes a specialised skill set, which requires leaders to be coached in this field.
Managing other cultural issues: Some cultures have specific cultural problems. While the Australian workplace may exhibit ‘tall poppy syndrome’, the American workplace might be too individualistic. Understanding the nuances of each culture needs leaders to be trained in handling the issues that arise from it.
How can you coach & mentor your leaders?
You should first start by embedding a culture of mentorship across the organisation. This could be by involving an external mentorship provider who trains both your leaders and employees, or simply by engaging a facilitator who encourages the formation of mentoring relationships across your organisation. Choose wisely – as the right mentorship program will impact your workplace inclusion.
If leaders are too focused on managing employee performance in isolation of their differences, they might miss out on the gigantic opportunity diversity presents.
Building mentoring relationships enables leaders to guide and develop their employees, and makes employees feel truly valued and cared for.
A structured inclusion coaching & mentoring program can help
Using a structure program as part of your organisation’s mentoring collateral is different because it includes:
- Online learning modules that your leaders and employees can do from anywhere.
- Career development plans so your leaders and employees know which direction their career will go in in the future.
- 1-on-1 peer mentoring circles that facilitate cross-mentoring relationships across your company.
- Action challenges and inclusion ‘experiments’ that challenge leaders to step into the shoes of your employees and more.
- Any other tools your leaders might need to be more inclusive.
As a leader looking to empower the people within your organisation to understand the ‘how’ of inclusion means that you are going one step further than simply “implementing a mentoring program”.
Not all leaders know how to be inclusive. Most will have an understanding of what it means to be inclusive but many can’t put that theory into practice.
As in inclusion ally, you’re taking on the role of coaching & mentoring your leaders so that they too step up to champion change.
What gets measured gets managed
One of the most powerful ways to influence leaders within your organisation is to present the business case for the change you wish to champion.
In my many conversations with leaders this has proven time and time again to be a roadblock to implementing a truly disruptive inclusion program.
This is because leaders don’t know how to measure inclusion nor how to put it into figures that can show an impact on the bottom line.
It’s important you become a partner to the diversity and inclusion success within your organisation and you can do so by showing leaders how their efforts will translate into tangible business results.
For inclusion leadership coaching strategies and mentoring initiatives to be successful, you need to measure the ROI from them.
It’s only what gets measured that gets managed, and that couldn’t be truer for diversity and inclusion training.
There are a lot of metrics that can be gathered and of course some will be specific to each organisation’s goals, however consider these:
- How many women, people of colour, or other minority groups, within your organisation got promoted after the program?
- Are your diverse employees reporting an increase in work satisfaction levels after the program?
- What do our attrition numbers look like after rolling out the program across the organisation?
- What anecdotes are our leaders sharing that indicate an increase in psychological safety and wellness at our organisation?
Apart from these questions, you can proactively gather feedback from your employees about how they think they’ve benefitted from the programs.
Go further to embed habitual changes
We all know how hard it is to break or start a habit.
As an organisation, consider embedding inclusive behaviours by make diversity and inclusion training a part of your compliance.
Everyone in the organisation should be made aware of what it means to be inclusive, and complete necessary training modules before they can truly be integrated as part of your workforce.
Making inclusion solutions and training part of your compliance shows to your employees how seriously invested you are in making your workplace diverse and inclusive. The good thing about compliance training is that it needs to be ‘updated’ or done regularly, and the chances of your leaders and employees developing a more inclusive mindset are a lot higher when they’re continuously trained over a sustained period of time.
Empower your inclusive leaders to influence strategy and policy direction
A good coach or mentor can become the eyes and ears of your diversity and inclusion initiatives.
This is especially so when your inclusive leaders are also coaching and mentoring other talent within your organisation. They have on the ground knowledge about what’s really happening in the day to day lives of your diverse employees and can influence strategy and policy direction.
To give your inclusion endeavours a solid chance of success, consider enrolling in a structured inclusive workplace mentoring program to help shape your leaders and employees into open minded, inclusive human beings that perform for your company’s greater good.