Inclusive leadership breeds increased productivity, expert says

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SALT LAKE CITY — Building an inclusive workplace goes beyond race or gender, a Utah industry expert told some of the state’s business professionals Thursday. It should be an effort to invite the best work from all involved.

Speaking to an audience of business professionals at the Salt Lake Chamber offices in downtown Salt Lake City, Sara Jones, CEO of Utah-based InclusionPro — a consulting firm that develops diversity and inclusion plans for executives — said leaders need to understand the importance of building effective inclusion strategies that every employee can learn and implement.

“Culture is built from changing your behaviors,” she said. “Everybody has inclusive skills. It’s just that when they work with people that are different than them, a different set of behaviors start to kick in.”

She said that people should be intentional in wanting to change their behavior to promote a more inclusive environment by recognizing when new people are coming onto their teams and proactively engaging them at their highest (intellectual) levels. She noted that unconscious biases often prevent people from working and interacting as effectively as they could.

“Inclusion is a way to think about how to overcome those unconscious bias behaviors,” Jones explained. “How do I get my team to understand when that is happening and be intentional about it?”

She defined inclusion as “asking people to contribute at their highest levels,” which don’t necessarily have to focus on diversity characteristics. People want to be valued most for their talents and capabilities in the workplace, she said, not for their minority or gender status.

“I just want my thinking to be appreciated and I want to be able to give you my best thinking and my best work,” Jones explained.

Adopted from Korea as a child by an American family, she said her firsthand experience has helped her learn to understand the impact of implicit bias and how to deal with it in the professional workspace.

She also noted that people aren’t always aware of their bias and sometimes need help in recognizing it and the unintended consequences such behavior can pose to workplace productivity.

“Inclusion is thinking very intentionally about how (leaders) are actively engaging everyone to contribute,” she said. “To help us problem solve, to help us build our teams (and) to help us do the work of building our companies.”

Jones told the audience that diverse teams offer a broader scope of life experiences and professional viewpoints. Those attributes can …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

      

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