Different Layers Of Diversity: Developing Inclusive Leadership (Part 1)

Inclusive leadership is key to building employee trust, loyalty and goodwill.

The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found the modern workforce overwhelmingly believe that profits alone do not make a successful business, pointing to additional priorities — including “an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

At the same time, roughly 2/3 of survey participants, those born between 1983 and 1999,  believe that business leaders “pay lip service to diversity and inclusion.”

Conclusion? If you want to engage with top talent Employees’ trust must be earned. To build a truly diverse and inclusive workplace, leaders need to show personal commitment and take responsibility for making it happen. And this is equally important for attracting talent too.

What does diversity really mean? What does inclusive leadership look like? And how can organisations develop truly inclusive leadership? 

Here are some of our tips.

Different layers of diversity

The number of factors that define diversity is truly unlimited, some are visible to our eyes while others are indistinguishable by us; some are controllable by us while some we are born with. 


Inclusive leaders are open to change. They genuinely care about their employees as people and they respect and welcome differences. Deloitte has identified six inclusive leadership traits for business leaders to work toward:

1. Commitment

Commitment to improving diversity and inclusion, because staying the course is hard. Inclusive leaders take time and energy to understand each team member uniqueness and proactively adapt their work practices to meet the needs of others.

2. Courage

Courage to admit you do not have all the answers because talking about imperfections involves personal risk-taking. Highly inclusive leaders speak up and challenge the status quo, and they are humble about their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Cognizance

Cognizance of bias as an individual and as an organization because bias is a leader’s Achilles’ heel. At the individual level, inclusive leaders are very self-aware, and they act on that self-awareness. They also acknowledge that their organizations, despite best intentions, have unconscious bias, and they put in place policies, processes, and structures in order to mitigate the unconscious bias that exists.

4. Curiosity

Curiosity and openness to different ideas and perspectives because different ideas and experiences enable growth. Highly inclusive leaders have an open mindset, a desire to understand how others view and experience the world, and a tolerance for ambiguity.

5. Cultural intelligence

Cultural intelligence and confidence to lead cross-cultural teams because not everyone sees the world through the same cultural frame.  At a deeper level, inclusive leaders’ thirst for learning means that they are also motivated to deepen their cultural understanding and to learn from the experience of working in an unfamiliar environment.

6. Collaboration

Collaboration that empowers people to challenge and build on each other’s ideas because a diverse-thinking team is greater than the sum of its parts. Inclusive leaders understand that, for collaboration to be successful, individuals must first be willing to share their diverse perspectives. This willingness is cultivated by creating an environment where individuals feel valued personally and are empowered to contribute.


Inclusive leadership is what makes diversity work. These leaders are able to leverage the wealth of knowledge, insights, and perspectives that diverse teams offer through creating an open and trusting workplace. By truly valuing diversity, inclusive leaders unlock the competitive advantage that workplaces generate, becoming a magnet for the very best talent.

In the second part of the article, we discuss best practices for developing inclusive leadership capability.