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The “How” of Inclusive Leadership with Ritu Bhasin

The “How” of Inclusive Leadership with Ritu Bhasin

Belonging and inclusion are increasingly being referenced when discussing the new world of work. But with high belonging linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days according to a study by Betterup, leaders need to do more than just talk about it, they need to act.

If you’re wondering where to start, Ritu Bhasin — an internationally recognized expert in leadership, workplace culture, inclusion, and belonging — is your guide. As the CEO of bhasin consulting inc. (bci), a preeminent leadership and inclusion consulting firm, she has worked with hundreds of renowned organizations across industries, helping them take their DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusivity, and belonging) strategies to the next level.

In her keynote presentations, Ritu breaks down the “how” of inclusive leadership, sharing concrete tools and actionable strategies. We recently spoke with the Ritu to learn more about inclusive leadership and the crucial role it plays in unlocking belonging in the workplace.

The Key Pillars of Inclusive Leadership

“It’s a difficult time to lead,” Ritu said. “From a rapidly changing work environment to ongoing social injustices and geopolitical challenges, there are several forces impacting employee mental health, engagement, and morale in today’s world.”

To successfully lead amongst so much uncertainty and change, leaders need to lean into what we do know. “As humans, we’re animals.” Ritu said. “And as animals, we crave belonging. We want to feel seen, respected, and acknowledged.”

Leaders have the capability of fostering this kind of work environment — one rooted in authenticity and belonging — but it starts with them. Below are three key pillars of inclusive leadership that Ritu highlights in her sessions. 

1. Educate Yourself: Understand the Concept of Equity

To lead inclusively, leaders must have a very good understanding of the concept of equity. “In particular,” Ritu said, “leaders must acknowledge that workplace systems and processes reflect societal inequities.” In other words, we don’t all start from the same place.

“Our practices and behaviours reflect inequities, biases, and prejudice that tie back to oppressive historical (and present day) experiences like enslavement, misogyny, colonialism, and more,” she continued. “Since this isn’t a level playing field, the better we understand equity, the more impact we can have on inclusion within our organizations as leaders.”

2. Do the Work: Focus on Bias Disruption

Leaders need to engage in bias disruption work. “Every person is wired to engage in biased behaviour,” Ritu said. “As a leader, it’s important to understand how it shows up in your individual behaviour, not to mention the systems and processes in your workplace such as recruitment, feedback delivery, and client service.”

It can be challenging to identify and interrupt our biases, but there are tools available to help. Ritu recommends Harvard’s Implicit Association Tests and reviewing bci’s bias videos playlist and free tip sheets.

3. Take Action: Practice Authenticity

“To cultivate an inclusive workplace, one where everyone experiences belonging, it’s important that leaders are vulnerable in the work environment,” Ritu said. “Give your employees a big window into who you are, what you’re ashamed of, and what causes you stress. Model for your team what it looks like to be vulnerable about your insecurities because belonging only happens when people are empowered to bring their authentic selves to work.” Authenticity begets authenticity.

“When we openly acknowledge that we have biases,” Ritu said, “or demonstrate our awareness of current and historical events that cause people to feel isolated and speak to this, this behaviour signals to our team members that we are working hard to understand their experiences, we recognize our own privilege and power, and we are committed to creating cultures of belonging.

“This is what it looks like to create a team culture rooted in inclusion, belonging, psychological safety, empowerment, and trust. And this is what ultimately drives employee loyalty and leads to high retention.”

Contact Us to Learn More

Discover more about inclusive leadership by booking Ritu Bhasin to speak at your next event. She digs deep into the key pillars of inclusive leadership, equipping attendees with concrete tools for unlocking belonging. Main takeaways include:

  • Understanding the differences between diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Neuroscience, leadership, and mindfulness research related to unconscious bias.
  • How to create cultures that are rooted in belonging, psychological safety, trust, inclusion, innovation, and empowerment.
  • Inclusion-based skills and language leaders can leverage to empower team members in an ever-changing work environment.

Contact us to learn more about Ritu and how to hire a keynote speaker for your next event.

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