RISE Leadership Behaviours that Strengthen DEI Outcomes

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have gained renewed urgency in our workplaces, not merely as a buzzword but as a pivotal strategy that can drive organisational excellence. To translate these values into actionable outcomes, we are focusing on leadership behaviours. In this arena, RISE leadership stands out as a compelling model. 

RISE stands for: 

  • Respectful Leaders 
  • Who value Inclusion 
  • Creating Supportive environments 
  • Where Ethical behaviours are the norm 

Let's delve into how RISE leadership behaviours can significantly enhance DEI outcomes within your organisation. 

Respectful Leaders

Respect isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept; it's about acknowledging the unique experiences, skills, and cultures that each person brings to the table. A respectful leader seeks out different perspectives not as a tick-box exercise but as valuable insights that can drive innovation and teamwork. 

DEI Insight: The Power of Boundaries

Boundaries serve as a dual mechanism for self-respect and respect for others, creating a foundation for a genuinely equitable workspace. By setting and honouring boundaries, leaders prioritise self-care and align with their own values and mitigate stress. In turn, this establishes a culture where each individual's unique needs and limitations are also respected. This mindful approach to boundaries enhances DEI by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and emotional safety. 

Valuing Inclusion

Inclusion is more than just bringing diversity into the room; it's about making sure everyone feels heard, valued, and part of the collective. This requires active involvement from leaders, from revising hiring practices to ensuring that they are seeking out every voice across their team.  

DEI Insight: Exclusion is a real threat.   

The science behind inclusion is more than just social theory; it has roots in neurobiology. Our brains are wired to perceive social exclusion as a threat, similar to physical danger. This triggers a "fight or flight" response that can hinder performance, focus, and collaborative effort. In an environment where exclusion is tolerated or overlooked, individuals are constantly on edge, leading to decreased productivity and increased turnover. By fostering a culture of inclusion, leaders can alter the brain's response from threat to reward, allowing employees to operate at their best potential.  

Supportive Environments

A supportive environment is one where employees feel safe—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Leaders must proactively identify barriers to this safety, such as bullying, harassment, or systemic biases, and work tirelessly to remove them. 

DEI Insight: Supportive and nice are not the same thing.  

Clear is supportive. Unclear is unsupportive.  

The most supportive thing leaders can do is to be clear in their expectations, feedback and ability to hold others accountable when behaviours and outcomes aren’t on par with team standards.  

Leaders fail to be supportive when they don't provide clear expectations that build trust and transparency or when they allow poor behaviour to exist among their team. In fact, they fail to realise they are a part of the poor behaviour by hiding behind the story of being nice.  

Take time to reflect and think about what "nice" really is.  

Ethical Behaviours as the Norm

Ethical behaviour goes beyond adhering to the law. It includes upholding the moral principles that should guide every action within a business environment. Leaders must set the standard here, making ethics a lived experience rather than a page in the employee manual. 

DEI Insight: Ethical Leadership as an Antidote to Ethical Fading

Ethical leadership is crucial for fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. It serves as a bulwark against "ethical fading," a phenomenon where the ethical dimensions of a decision are overlooked or minimized. Ethical fading can have detrimental effects on DEI initiatives, as it allows biases to go unchecked and inclusion efforts to become mere tick-box exercises. Leaders committed to ethical practices not only set the tone but also create an environment where each decision is examined through the lens of fairness and inclusivity, keeping the ethical core of DEI alive and effective. 

Take away message

RISE leadership doesn't just make ethical and moral sense; it also makes good business sense. By fostering a culture of respect, inclusion, support, and ethics, leaders can not only bring out the best in their diverse teams but also tangibly improve DEI outcomes. 

The takeaway is clear: for companies committed to meaningful DEI, adopting RISE leadership behaviours isn't just an option; it's an imperative. Are you ready to RISE to the occasion? 

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