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3 things every startup should do to create inclusive leadership
December 6, 2021 at 4:00 PM

It should not be a surprise that companies need to foster a culture of inclusivity to aid in their success in today's business landscape. When employees feel valued, heard, and connected to each other and the organization, they're more likely to put in their best efforts and drive innovative results. Creating a more inclusive environment for the workforce begins at the top. Senior leaders must make an intentional effort to ensure that inclusivity is a part of company culture.

With that said, there's no better stage to begin promoting inclusive leadership than at the startup level. Startups are young, agile, and generally more flexible, putting them in an optimal place to build and practice a culture of inclusivity.

Are you a startup owner looking to get your new business off to a great start with inclusive-centric policies for a more engaging and productive workforce? Socius Strategies can help. We are an experienced business consulting and HR support firm focused on assisting companies in tapping into the many benefits of a DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) workplace.

Let's walk you through how to go about it.

What does it mean to be inclusive?

As discussed previously, an inclusive culture is based on justice and respect for all, values and integrates difference, empowers and recognizes all. It's about creating the best possible environment for your employees to thrive and do their best. When this is the result, you make a stronger, more stable company and prepare for long-term growth.

Respect is foundational in any inclusive culture. There must also be room for robust debate among stakeholders. The aim here is to create a system where each team member feels accepted and comfortable enough to share their different points of view without hesitation. This allows everyone to be more collaborative in their quest to drive the best results for the business and themselves

True inclusivity is sincere and authentic. It goes beyond posting a few messages on social media now and then; it is at the company's core. As a leader, the last thing you want is to come across as pretentious and condescending — this will end up widening the divide further instead of bringing people together.

Three practices that can promote inclusive leadership in your startup

1. Be intentional

Startups must be purposeful about creating an inclusive business. You don't need to have it all figured out just yet. Start by focusing on two to three things you can act on and then expand the scope along the way. For example, what is your vision of an inclusive organization? What are the three behaviors you would want to see in your organization to show its inclusivity? It is far better to establish a long-term commitment to a few things you can do well than to create multiple unsustainable policies in the short term.

As with everything worth achieving, committing to inclusivity is an ongoing process, so don't expect to see results overnight. Over time, inclusivity in the workplace will become engrained, provided you laid the foundation for it in the early stages of your business.

2. Invest in leadership coaching for your management team

Inclusive leadership does not come naturally to most business owners and managers. The company leadership needs to undergo special coaching at the C-suite level, most of the time.

Educating your management team about the importance of inclusivity better prepares them to lead company-wide initiatives. It also helps create a safe space where everyone can feel more comfortable and confident when relating with their respective teams.

3. Prioritize working with diverse partners and vendors

As a startup, you might have fewer resources compared to large companies. So, you may not be able to invest in established diversity initiatives. Instead, you can look for opportunities where you can collaborate with diverse business partners and vendors; when you get the chance to work with freelancers and contractors, seek out Minority-Owned Businesses or Women-Owned Businesses.

When you prioritize working with diverse partners and vendors, you're setting the tone for an inclusive framework. It also teaches you to be more respectful of other people's ideas, which can amplify over time and become a core value within your company culture.

Schedule a consultation for inclusive leadership in your business today

In Latin, Socius means ally or partner. When it comes to creating a workplace of belonging with high employee engagement in