The voice of inclusive leaders is necessary for current topics that infringe upon the creation and sustenance of an inclusive workplace. For example, banned books, voting rights, political endorsements, reparations, reproductive rights, marriage equality, hate crimes, and more have asked more and more of inclusive leaders. Some of these topics are so triggering that many are overly cautious, fearing making the wrong move for fear of stiff penalties. The stakes will increase as the expectations of varying audiences rise over additional complexities that cause constant churn in the workplace.
The June 29th Supreme Court ruling over affirmative action is another hit that demands consideration and thoughtful planning to deal with the eventual workplace implications of this outcome. Of particular note is the legislation that says race should not factor into decision-making for college admissions, except in military academies. Many academic institutions have issued messaging acknowledging legislation but emphasizing commitments to continue providing inclusive educational opportunities. Many are looking to those proclaiming to be inclusive leaders and genuine in their support of diversity, equity, and inclusion priorities to take a stand and voice continued commitment in the workplace. The same was true when other Supreme Court rulings (i.e., marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights, etc.) demanded support.
If this topic has yet to surface as a priority, inclusive leaders must proactively invest the time to include the recent ruling as an agenda item across the organization. Employees and customers alike watch leaders in these times for action or inaction. Credibility is always at stake. Inclusive leaders take note.
Consider the following actions to plan a course of action:
- Evaluate current perspective (as an individual leader) and organization. Recall steeped messaging and learning about the meaning of affirmative action. Has realignment or reconciliation occurred? Call upon ongoing education to support transformation and find opportunities to put new awareness into action.
- Demonstrate empathy for others. Even without a direct understanding of impact, the role of inclusive leadership challenges leaders to lean into all inclusive behaviors, empathy being a cornerstone capability. Reference other capabilities here.
- Secure input from experts if need be. It’s okay to struggle to find the answers. The key is to take proactive steps to find solutions in these times. LinkedIn is a good place to find experts chiming in on this very topic.
- Provide preliminary commentary to demonstrate care of the topic and potential impact on an inclusive workplace.
- Dedicate resources to create a plan of action to define support. Failure to proactively prioritize sends a message that “race” is potentially a taboo topic that is too controversial to explore. Lean into advocacy.
- Lead inclusively. Be an authentic trailblazer who always pushes for inclusion. Perfection is not a requirement for inclusive leadership. Remember, errors are opportunities to deepen learning.
- Communicate with internal and external audiences to share plans and progress. Transparency remains essential to maintain safety in the workplace.
- Ensure accountability measures are in place. Accountability is necessary to experience progress. What are some impactful and meaningful commitments, and what structures are required to ensure accountability?
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