Are you an inclusive leader?

Learn how you can assess and take action to ensure diversity and inclusion.

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As a leader, manager or supervisor, you may strive to be inclusive. It’s possible, however, that you may be unaware of how certain groups or employees may feel they’re treated differently.

This is a quick way for you to consider some of the factors that impact inclusion at work. You may also be interested in the more formal Psychologically safe team assessment which allows your employees to rate the extent to which they feel included. 

Ask yourself these questions to explore how you might be able to improve inclusion in your workplace. 

  1. Does everyone on your team speak up with concerns and suggestions? If not, who is silent?
    • Pay attention to who speaks up, shares ideas, and raises concerns in meetings. It is equally important to pay attention to those who are hesitant or remain silent. It could be helpful to approach those who are silent in a one-on-one setting to ask them their thoughts, as well as to find out if there’s something that may help them to feel more comfortable speaking up.
  2. When employees speak up, do you let them know how you take their feedback into consideration, especially around decisions that have the potential to impact their jobs? 
    • Having employees speak up with concerns and suggestions is not enough to support inclusion. Whether and how their feedback influences your decisions is critical. Before you say no for leaders can help you improve the way you respond. 
  3. How do you modify your leadership style for different team members?
    • Inclusive leaders understand that people have different communication, feedback and recognition preferences. What may motivate one team member may demotivate another. For example, a competition where there’s a prize to win may motivate and excite some, but for those who are more team focused, it could do the opposite. 
  4. Have you taught your team members to have respectful and productive differences of opinion?
    • Many people aren’t comfortable with conflict (or disagreement) and try to avoid it at all costs. It’s important to foster a culture where disagreements and conflict are addressed so they don’t fester or become toxic. This can be especially true for vulnerable groups of people, or people with particular lived experiences. There are tips and techniques you could share in Resolving personal conflict or a workshop you could facilitate called Psychologically safe interactions.
  5. Do you encourage and consider opinions different from your own?
    • It’s important to take time to elicit feedback, listen and appropriately consider employee suggestions, preferences and needs, as well as being flexible where you can. We can’t always meet everyone’s needs, so it’s important to take the time to explain why, when we can’t. 
  6. Which cultural or religious celebrations do you recognize at work and which ones do you ignore?
    • Acknowledging different cultures and beliefs is an important way to honour the diversity of the people that work at your organization in a tangible way. It’s also an opportunity for all employees to learn about their co-workers and build their cultural competency. These cultural celebrations are just a fraction of those your team may observe. Asking which celebrations matter to your team members can help you focus on which ones to recognize.
  7. What do you consider when planning work or social events?
    • Taking into consideration things like religious observances such as fasting , food restrictions due to allergies or preferences, time of day for those who have caregiving obligations, cost for those with financial pressures, alcohol consumption for those in recovery, and other preferences employees may have can ensure that everyone is able to feel comfortable and safe to participate – and included. 
  8. Do you have employees who are overachievers with poor personal boundaries?
    • It’s great when our employees want to give it their all, but sometimes over-doing it can indicate that people feel like they have to prove themselves to be accepted. This can be particularly true for those who feel they don’t belong or are part of an equity-seeking group that faces stigma or discrimination. The truth is, that’s not healthy or sustainable. Think about who the people are that have this tendency and what may be contributing to it. Those who feel that they don’t belong or are at risk of burnout.

Equity-seeking groups are those that have historically been denied equal access to employment, education, and other opportunities. In the workplace, this could include little or no representation in upper management and little or no ability to influence decisions at work.

These questions can help you think about what might be possible in terms of improving inclusion. Many other resources are available to you, such as Inclusion strategies for leaders, Evidence-based actions for inclusion, Implicit bias workshop materials and many more organization-wide strategies related to Discrimination prevention and inclusion.

Additional resources

There are many other low- or no-cost training solutions available through the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI).

You may also wish to explore the CCDI Leader Talks podcast.

Considering diversity, equity and inclusion at work can feel tricky, but it reaps many rewards for businesses and people. You can learn about success stories from various industries put together by the CCDI.


  • Ecclestone, A., Linden, B., & Rose, J. (2022). (rep.). Results of Cross-National Inclusivity Roundtables (pp. 1–33). Kingston, Ontario: Queen's University. 


Contributors include.articles(Dakota/Saulteaux/Nêhiyaw/Métis)Adam NeponAdriana LeighAlex Kollo Coaching and ToolsAngeline S. Chia, ICF Coach, IDI QA, M.Ed.(HRD)Annastasia LambertDavid K. MacDonaldDayna Lee-Baggley, Ph.D., R. Psych.Ekua QuansahErin DavisJade PichetteJune BuboireKerry GreeneLindsay BissettMary Ann BayntonMike SchwartzNancy J. Gowan,B.H.Sc. (O.T.), O.T. Reg. (Ont.), CDMPNicole StewartRuthann WeeksTanya SinclairTiana Field-RidleyValerie Pruegger, Ph.D.Workplace Strategies team 2022 to present

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