Microsoft’s Lindsay-Rae McIntyre shares how to embed inclusion in every area of the employee experience

 

When business leaders talk about diversity and inclusion (D&I), many focus on headcount and visible diversity. It’s a noble goal – a homogenous company is less likely to be ready for new market challenges, according to multiple studies – but it’s a single-point solution. Since inclusion is about creating an environment where all employees can do their best work, inclusion must be embedded throughout the employee experience.

Speaking with #movethedial, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, the Chief Diversity Officer at Microsoft, shared her insights on what she does to embed inclusion throughout the employee experience – and how other leaders can continue their learning journey.

In this series, #movethedial interviews speakers for its upcoming 2019 Global Summit to learn how these dynamic leaders go “ALL IN” on inclusion. Read on for more about how Kat Holmes thinks about inclusion.


The leadership requirements of an inclusive boss


Becoming an inclusive leader, like any other leadership skill, can be learned. For McIntyre, it’s about structuring the “roles” that an inclusive leader must perform in order to do their jobs well.

McIntyre said that an inclusive leader has the following “roles”: Listener, data analyst, innovator, program manager, local expert, communicator, teacher, and ambassador.

A listener is someone who participates “in community engagement and outreach – both internally and externally,” said McIntyre. This naturally leads into the data analyst role, which is focused on asking the right questions to gather high quality data. From there, the innovator role takes the available data to create new strategies or ideas that make work more inclusive. Then comes the program manager role, taking those unique ideas and developing an execution plan so they come to life.

Once you have a plan, an inclusive leader develops some local expertise in order to speak to any unique issues that arise. Armed with a plan and local expertise, the communicator, teacher, and evangelist roles merge into a responsibility to instruct, being accountable to ensuring your team learns, and being passionate about the company and strategy, sharing it with other people.


Learning and actions over tone and good intentions

Of all the roles an inclusive leader inhabits, it’s hard to pick which is the most important for a leader to be strong in. That said, a crucial part of any strategy is execution. Inclusion is not about simply wanting to do right by employees – it’s about learning what you need to in order to take action.

“What every company leadership can do is listen, learn, and lead,” said McIntyre. “… You have to think about how you are engaging with your employees.”

For McIntyre, embedding inclusion in your company is about continually learning. You won’t be perfect right at the beginning, but if you don’t continually work at it you won’t ever be good at it.

For leaders just getting started, McIntyre recommends going on a personal learning journey and a data collection journey. Personal learning can happen through books or blogs, attending consortiums and summits around diversity in tech, and listening to the personal viewpoints of people from diverse backgrounds. The rise of social media has made every step more accessible, since you have access to more information than ever before.

After learning more on your own, which helps inform the kinds of questions you need to ask, it’s time to collect data from your employees and in particular your team. McIntyre recommends holding open forums, sending out surveys, and looking at both quantitative and qualitative measures to see if the team is feeling included and able to perform.

She then recommends modelling expected behaviours yourself and rewarding desired behaviours in others. While it may feel like a Pavlovian experiment at first, it’s important because inclusion is, fundamentally, about person-to-person interactions.

“Inclusion happens in the many small day to day interactions we all have in the workplace,” said McIntyre.

“It’s important to ensure managers and leaders have the information, tools, and resources they need to understand the strategy.”


By Guest Writer: Stefan Palios

Don’t miss your chance to hear Lindsay-Rae McIntyre speak about the evolution of diversity and inclusion at this year’s Global Summit For more info or to buy tickets, visit movethedial.com/summit

 
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