Coaching for inclusion


Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice.  We can all choose to be more inclusive in the ways that we behave at work, as leaders, as managers and as colleagues.  In the virtual world that we are working in this becomes even more important because we need to intentionally create opportunities to build connections, collaborate and invite different perspectives.  In my experience supporting leadership teams to adopt inclusive leadership behaviours, a training programme alone is not sufficient because training can be a great solution when you want to acquire a new skill, but it is hard to change ingrained behaviours.

Committing to being an inclusive leader is easier said than done.  Leaders may mean well, but their habitual behaviours will have been shaped by their experiences of the world growing up, as a result, choosing to be consciously inclusive can be deeply uncomfortable for several reasons:

  • It requires me to recognise that not everyone sees the world from my perspective.
  • It challenges me to notice how my privilege gives me an advantage that is out of my control and that I didn’t ask for.
  • It demands that I face into my blind spots; the biases and stereotypes I hold which cloud my view.
  • I become consciously incompetent as I discover how much I have to learn.

Coaching changes behaviour.

Becoming an inclusive leader requires vulnerability and a willingness to take risks.  Coaching provides a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space in which biases, privilege, blind spots and stereotypes can be explored.  By its very nature, coaching invites exploration and deepens self-awareness.  We are all at different points in our journey of unlearning biases and we are unlikely to be open to changing if we don’t feel understood and safe enough to honestly express how we feel.

A training programme can raise awareness and provoke discussion, but coaching will bring about a shift in mindset and behaviour.  To hear more on this topic, look out for series two of The Coaching Question Podcast coming out in April 2021.  We were lucky enough to be joined by Sasha Scott and Jen Morris of Inclusive Group to explore the role of coaching in the world of Diversity and Inclusion.

[Image: Tim Mossholder – Unsplash]




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