Inclusive Leadership Imperative

In an ever-changing and increasingly globalized economy, what constitutes effective leadership in business is changing, too.

In addition to traditional leadership skills, inclusion-focused values and traits are critical for leaders navigating a diverse corporate landscape. A new paper developed in collaboration between Deloitte and the Taproot Foundation―Pro Bono + Inclusive Leadership― explores how Deloitte leverages pro bono service to develop a workforce of inclusive leaders, illustrating the exciting opportunity for Learning & Development (L&D), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) professionals to work together to help drive meaningful employee development and engagement.

Six traits of inclusive leadership

Deloitte has done significant research in this area and created a framework called the Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership to help leaders engage with and contribute to the diversity of markets, customers, ideas, and talent that characterize global commerce in the 21st century. The framework defines inclusive leadership through six traits: commitment, courage, cognizance of bias, curiosity, cultural intelligence, and collaboration.

Dr. Terri Cooper, Vice Chair External Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Deloitte, has pinpointed inclusive leadership as one of the most significant elements of a comprehensive DEI strategy. As part of the 2019 Taproot webinar Pro Bono + The Inclusive Leader, Cooper shared that companies whose leaders create an inclusive culture “are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, and six times more likely to be innovative and agile.” These statistics underscore the fact that a company’s promotion of inclusive leadership can have a significant bearing on its ability to compete in the global marketplace, prepare employees for the future of work, and acquire and retain diverse talent.

While companies experiment with many different methods to develop these characteristics, pro bono is emerging as an impactful growth opportunity for cultivating inclusive leaders—and we know why. From a corporate perspective, pro bono service is a win on many levels: nonprofits benefit from access to employees’ unique experience and commitment to social impact, while companies benefit by strengthening community ties and developing an adaptable workforce. Everyone can thrive when we develop a culture of inclusion.

Companies have a chance to engage in this business imperative by embedding inclusive leadership principles across their workforce. According to Pro Bono + Inclusive Leadership, pro bono service is a powerful tool for helping develop leaders through accelerated, experiential learning that has a real-world impact. This piece examines how Deloitte leverages pro bono as one way to help develop inclusive leaders. A series of profiles showcases the ways in which Deloitte professionals connect these experiences to their own leadership development, and then applied those learnings to their day-to-day work.

“It’s been exciting to explore how this alignment between DEI and Corporate Citizenship can help us support more organizations that are building leaders from diverse backgrounds and build more empathetic, inclusive leaders within Deloitte”

— Dr. Kwasi Mitchell, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP

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