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Big Ideas in IDEA

CCDI Consulting's Monthly Newsletter for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility.


First, let's acknowledge and celebrate that February is Black History Month. The Government of Canada provides many resources that you can use to commemorate the month.

Before we get to this month's articles, I wanted to share some news. 

  • CCDI Consulting has changed its wordmark, and we have adopted a new, more accessible colour palette.  Please read our recent post that gives you practical advice and links to tools to help make your digital footprint more accessible and inclusive.

  • Again this year, we are a proud Employer Partner and Sponsor of the CCDI UnConference.  Our very own Angele Lalonde will be presenting this year. Remember, CCDI Employer Partners receive passes to the event as one of their many benefits. 

  • We are also excited to be a sponsor of CSAE, and we will attend the Tete-a-Tete event in Ottawa on February 8.  If you are attending, please come by and say "hello."

  • We are looking for a Director, Client Delivery.  This position is open to anyone legally entitled to work in Canada (and located in Canada) who meets the requirements.  It is a hybrid or remote opportunity, but please have a GOOD INTERNET CONNECTION. 😀

  • Last and certainly not least, we are conducting our May 25 research again this year.  To participate takes about 5 minutes to answer a few simple questions about the state of DEI initiatives at your organization. All data is strictly anonymous, and participation is voluntary. The survey closes on April 15, 2023.  We will post the results in May.

Thank you for your time.

Ian More
Senior Director of Marketing

Inclusive Leadership | Do You Need To Bother?

Currently, there is a lot of talk regarding inclusive leadership. Is it another management fad or an area about which you need to learn more?
Many leading businesses have homogeneous workforces and a clear power hierarchy. This older structure is shifting. Today, companies have a greater self-awareness around the demographics of who they employ and serve and how employees' diversity and inclusion (D&I) can offer a competitive advantage.
Workplace inclusivity is related to the sense of trust, respect, and acceptance employees feel at work. For people to feel included at work, many elements, including the organization’s mission, policies, and co-worker behaviour, come into play.   
The essential aspect that brings all these pieces together is inclusive leadership, according to a Harvard Business Review article.

What is Inclusive Leadership

Inclusive leadership is a commitment to the equitable treatment of your employees, teams, or workforce. This approach requires leaders to be aware of their biases and remain open-minded when creating policies and making decisions.
Inclusive leadership assures every employee feels they are treated respectfully and fairly, are valued and feel that they belong, and are confident and inspired.
Inclusive leadership values team members to invite diverse perspectives and creates an atmosphere where people feel their opinions and contributions improve the company’s well-being.

Why is Inclusive Leadership Important

Recent research indicates a direct relationship between an inclusive leader and enhanced team performance. 
Teams with inclusive leaders are:

  • 17% more likely to report that they are high performing,
  • 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and
  • 29% more likely to report behaving collaboratively.

Want a more measurable result? A Deloitte study found a 10% improvement in perceptions of inclusion increases work attendance by almost 1 day a year per employee, reducing the cost of absenteeism.

What are the Traits of Inclusive Leadership

Researchers developed a 7-point list of traits that inclusive leaders exhibit.

Visible Commitment

Inclusive leaders articulate an authentic commitment to challenge the status quo, hold others accountable, and make D&I a personal and professional priority.

Awareness of Bias

Inclusive leaders display awareness of personal blind spots and flaws in the system and work hard to ensure workplace equity.

Cultural Intelligence

Inclusive Leaders are culturally competent. They are attentive to the cultures of others and adjust their communication, behaviour and understanding to adapt to people with different cultural experiences, beliefs, and skills.

Curiosity About Others

Inclusive leaders show an open mindset and curiosity about others. They listen without judgment and seek to understand their people.

Effective Collaboration

Inclusive leaders empower others, pay attention to the diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on team cohesion.


Inclusive leaders are frank about their capabilities, admit mistakes, and create safe spaces for others to participate.


By definition, empathy is the act of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another without having the feelings, ideas, and experiences of one’s self.

While all the traits are important and operate as a cluster, a leader’s awareness of personal and organizational biases is the number 1 factor that employees care about most. A leader’s awareness of bias is the essential trait generating a sense of inclusiveness. But to fully capitalize on their awareness of their bias, leaders also must express both humility and empathy.

Research shows that when awareness of bias is combined with high levels of humility, it can increase employees’ feelings of inclusion by up to 25%.

Moreover, when the awareness of bias is combined with empathy, it can increase employees’ feelings of inclusion by up to 33%.

3 Strategies for Inclusive Leadership

If you are committed to implementing an inclusive leadership structure, remember that this is a change management process.  

However, you may begin with these steps:

Notify Stakeholders

Inform both internal and external stakeholders, and tell them that the switch to inclusive leadership is valuable.  Perhaps share the various pieces of research that shows that D&I and inclusive leadership is vital to organizational success.

Open Communication

As with any change management process, open lines of communication is essential. From the top down, everyone needs to be informed and be able to participate in this aspect.  Be creative and ensure the message is conveyed multiple times and from multiple reliable sources.

Develop a Diversity & Inclusion Plan

How do you know if you are achieving the intended results if there is no plan? An effective D&I plan is like a roadmap.  You must first understand where you are and where you want to go. Then you need to prepare and pack for the trip. Then you get on the road.


The good news is that people are not born inclusive leaders. They are made – moulded by their experiences. The characteristics of an inclusive leader can be learned or enhanced. As with any other change, a person must commit to it, learn new skills and behaviours, and practice them. It takes time and persistence. No one is perfect. Mistakes will be made, and that is fine. It is from those mistakes that you will learn. People will forgive your mistakes if you acknowledge them and grow from them. 


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