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Got diversity? Now focus on inclusion

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in Leaders & Managers,Team Building

As companies expand internationally, leaders must increase their cross-cultural awareness. It starts with earning the trust of a diverse workforce.

Some executives mistakenly assume that once they assemble a “global village” of employees, then they can shift to other priorities. But it’s not enough to amass a diverse mix of individuals.

The real test involves inclusion. When making decisions that affect em­­ploy­­ees in far-flung corners of the world, how often—and to what degree—do you solicit input from them?

If you’re seeking to achieve an operational goal, for example, you need to educate all employees about the objective. Explain why it matters, citing support such as benchmarking data or industry trends to underscore its importance.

Then make it easy for anyone within the organization to provide feedback. Create a forum for internal brainstorming and information sharing.

Resist the temptation to respond to a technical challenge by just huddling with your senior team. It’s better to cast a wider net and invite input from employees around the globe.

To engage a global team, it’s important to withhold your conclusions at first. In­­stead, lay out the facts and welcome comments. Create a safe environment where people feel comfortable speaking up.

Ideally, you want a support-level em­­ployee thousands of miles from your organization’s headquarters to feel free to disagree with prevailing opinions. Rewarding dissenters, and insisting on diverse perspectives, can reinforce your intent to hear from everyone.

— Adapted from Leading Across New Borders, Ernest Gundling, Christine Caldwell & Karen Cvitkovich, John Wiley & Sons.

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