Whether you want to believe it or not, trust is the foundation for building a culture of belonging. Most fail to invest in a skill that their leaders can indeed learn and a skill that will in fact builds trust, empathy. When leaders have developed the skill to be an empathetic leader aka an inclusive leader, it then becomes second nature to know how to connect as well as hold safe spaces not only for your team but for everyone that you encounter. We must know that Psychological safety which can be learned from empathy is the foundation of Inclusion.

We recently had the chance to learn from former Harvard Professor and author, Frances X. Frei and during her session she talks about a process she refers to as the inclusion dial. This process is what leaders to cultures of inclusion but her 4-step process is as follows:

    1. All companies aka leaders and employees must start with creating environments that are safe, now Frances emphasizes that they must be safe for people that are different than you, they must feel safe. It is easy for companies to build cultures that are safe for people they identify as similar to them. But the real key to inclusion is to learn to create cultures where difference is accepted.

    2. Now that we have a culture that is safe, your next emphasis must be for employees to feel welcomed. During this phase you must celebrate people for their uniqueness, why? because often the problem is that we have cultures that celebrate sameness. When we celebrate our uniqueness, we understand that we value each other and ultimately people will feel a sense of belonging. During this phase you can introduce the concept of Intersectionality, not to find similarities but to celebrate the uniqueness and wholeness of a person. Let’s not forget that the more interesting thing about us as individuals is what makes us unique! But you must ensure that there is already a culture of safety, why? because if people do not feel safe they can not and will not show their authenticity.

    3. We now move to celebrate people, this is where Employee Resource Groups and celebrating Awareness Months are Important. Now it is important that you involve people at their own will to share their perspective and thoughts on how this month or ERG can practice their traditions, cultures and create safe spaces. Again, it’s important that you remember that it’s not about sameness, it’s about celebrating their uniqueness. Now, note that in the absence of psychological safety, perhaps this is why celebrating people feels inauthentic?

    4. The last step is for people to be cherished, most often the burdens of diversity often falls in the shoulders of those that have been marginalized, and the truth is that people will only feel cherished if everyone is allying. It is also important for people to feel represented, a twitter classic:

Beyoncé can find 24 black trombone players, but your company can’t find a single black intern, associate, or board member?

If someone in your company claims that they can not find diverse candidates, and that there is a pipeline issue perhaps they solution is to find people that do know how to find diverse talent. It’s not a weakness not to know, but the true power is in finding people that know how, and giving them the platform to find and build a diverse pipeline.

IF THE CLIMATE does not make me feel welcome.. people will not be authentic!!


it is our job to take people through the inclusion dial”

Frances Frei emphasizes and reminds us that Leadership is about making other’s better, and somehow along the lines we forgot the true essence and importance of our roles.

If you are looking for practices, events, sessions that can introduce these topics and experiences to your organization contact our team (contact@notainclusion.com) or visit our website to learn more!