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Executive Coaching 101: Diversity and Inclusion

Executive coaching comes with its own vocabulary, one that can be a little daunting if you’re not sure what you’re getting into. In the interest of better communication (one of my favorite things), I’m starting a series called Executive Coaching 101, where I’ll be defining the common terms you hear in the executive coaching space in a way that most everyone can understand.

What is diversity and inclusion?

The broadest possible definition for diversity and inclusion (or D&I) is recognizing that differences exist in an organization and we can and should manage them in an intentional way. What this looks like in practice is much more complicated than a simple definition, however.

In the past few decades, most leaders have come to realize that diversity and inclusion is necessary and have taken, at the very least, nominal steps toward building a diverse workforce.

However, D&I efforts are often reduced to quotas – where leaders fixate on meeting diversity metrics, rather than ensuring that their workplaces are both diverse and inclusive.

You could have a workplace filled with the most knowledgeable, competent and diverse employees ever assembled, but if they don’t feel like they are a part of the team or included, you’re sunk before you ever even start. It doesn’t matter what an employee’s background is, if he or she feels alienated from his or her peers, then he or she is going to lose job satisfaction and be less effective. A D&I strategy that doesn’t allow every member of the team to bring value and feel valued is not going to create the workplace that we should strive for.

Why is diversity and inclusion important?

Unfortunately, an assumption that diversity begins and ends at hiring still persists. This limiting view could not be farther from the truth and actually impedes the efficacy of your business. It is important to create diverse teams of employees that you truly value and get to know. As you develop real relationships with your employees, you’ll discover new talents and opportunities that would have remained hidden without a focus on inclusion. That’s why the most important thing that a manager can do is see each employee as a valued individual.

When everyone has a seat at the table and a voice, the benefits are incalculable. More perspectives, more talents and more ideas lead to a better business.

How can an executive coach help with diversity and inclusion?

Many leaders recognize that they should focus on D&I to improve their business’ performance but it can be challenging to know what to look for and where to start. It’s a complex topic and includes many categories of work.

Executive coaches can help leaders do a variety of things, including reviewing talent recruitment and hiring practices and working with leaders in a hands-on way. We can support your demographic plans for the workforce, such as those related to gender and younger workers. We also help with acquisitions and bringing corporate cultures together. Most of all, we help leaders determine their true goals for D&I before they invest in the latest shiny object or HR program.

If you’re interested in evaluating D&I and managing it more intentionally, reach out and I can help you get started!