Heather Price, CEO at Symmetra, discusses what inclusion actually means in the 21st century.
Well, it’s really important for us to define exactly what inclusion means, because historically, for the last three decades or so, inclusion was really just described as showing respect for difference, engaging with difference, and having integrity about your own difference. And if a leader could demonstrate those three things, they were defined as an inclusive leader.
But now that we know that inclusion is inextricably interlinked with innovation and optimising performance, then that’s only half the package. Yes, as the foundation stone, leaders still need to know how to respect difference, engage with difference, and have integrity about difference, but over and above that, they also have to know how to be open to new ideas so that they will leverage diversity of thought to optimise performance. They have to know how to embed enough psychological safety so that people who have diverse views will feel safe to express them. They have to know how to span boundaries, geographical, division, and functional boundaries so that they can access the diversity of thought wherever it is. And they have to be flexible, and agile, and responsive, and adaptive to the ever-accelerating pace of change.
So to pull that all together, ultimately, we’re saying that if a leader’s inclusive, they really have to cover all those competencies in order to embed an inclusive culture in their team and in their practice.