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Principle 2: Leaders Change to Lead Change

This month I explore the second principle from my book, Leading Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: A Guide for Systemic Change in Multinational Organizations, Leaders Change to Lead Change.

  • If leaders are to lead with purpose and passion, is it important that leaders internalize the value of diversity, equity and inclusion to their organizations and to them personally?

  • How do we know what strategies to use to influence leaders?

  • How do leaders from disparate cultures express their DEI transformation?

As part of a global company’s mentoring initiative, a male European leader was paired with a more junior woman who managed a high-security prison. She had a collaborative, low-key leadership style that surprised him. After a year, he supported her promotion and told me that before this mentoring experience, if he had been presented with a choice between a male and a female to manage a prison, he would have chosen the male without a second thought. Given the dangerous environment, he thought an assertive style was needed. After having met his mentee, he realized there was more than one way to lead. From then on, he committed to do his best not to prejudge candidates based on gender. It is well established that commitment and role-modelling by senior-most leaders is critical to embedding and sustaining a culture that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive so that all employees are valued and have rewarding career trajectories. To be genuinely passionate about their commitment, leaders have to internalize the importance of DEI to the organization and to them personally. This takes deep work of perspective shifting. Not all leaders seek out transformational experiences that prompt the necessary introspection. My colleagues often share that they struggle with leaders who are resistant to the value of DEI. Change agents have to be strategic in how they expose leaders to experiences that are disruptive so that they can lead DEI with conviction. While engaging intellectually through rational arguments and data is important, this processing must be supplemented with experiences to see, feel, and react in a noncognitive manner. The importance and examples of both head and heart strategies are explored in more detail in my upcoming book.

  • How can leaders expose themselves to different experiences in a way that is powerful enough to generate self-reflection and be transformational in their journey?

  • How can leaders be guided through experiences such that they are able to recognize their privilege?

  • And with recognition of their unearned privilege, how can leaders learn to spend that social capital on the inclusion of others?

Tune into Learn from Leaders on Wednesday 18th August. I will have a conversation with Rishi Gour, CEO Theobroma India and former CEO Sodexo India, as he discusses his transformation journey to inclusive leadership. Learn how this transformation is expressed in different cultural contexts and with that understanding develop strategies to expose leaders to experiences that can shift their world views. Next month I will discuss the third principle from my book - And its Good Business, Too. In the meantime, my book is now available to pre-order.


More than just a book...

To celebrate the launch of my book, I have created a series of resources that I hope you find useful.


Learn from Leaders

August 18th | Rishi Gour, CEO of Theobroma

I am thrilled that this month I will be joined by Rishi Gour, CEO of Theobroma, a family-owned Indian company with cafés and baked goods.

Rishi was CEO of Sodexo India from September 2015 to December 2019 and raised the percentage of women in the Sodexo India workforce of over 48,000 employees from 15 percent to 20 percent before he left Sodexo at the end of 2019.

However, Rishi admits that DEI was not on his radar professionally until he stepped into his CEO role at Sodexo India.

There were two things that laid the foundation for his transformation. Tune into my interview with Rishi to find out more about what drove his transformation and enabled him to increase gender diversity so dramatically during his time at Sodexo. Watch the interview on August 18th when it goes live on my website. In the meantime, why not watch the previous interviews with Alain Morize, Senior Vice President, Energy and Resources for Sodexo US and Mark McLane, Head Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing for M&G.


Learn from the DEI Community

Our newly established Leading Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion LinkedIn community group continues to grow! Bringing together global leaders to connect and learn from each other, I hope it enhances your capability to drive sustainable, impactful change. Bring your questions, share your experiences and connect with fellow leaders who, like you, are driving DEI change and progress. Why not also share with colleagues and friends who are also on their DEI journey and are searching to identify ways to enhance impact across different regions!


Learn from my Experience

Thank you to everyone who joined me for the first Learn from My Experience Live Q&A session. It was a fantastic experience with insightful conversations with people from all over the world including the UAE, Brazil, England and the USA. Participants joined from companies such as Amazon, Coca-Cola, Macy's, Under Armour, and the Gates Foundation, to name a few. Following this success, I will be hosting another session on September 15th @ 10am EST, facilitated again by the wonderful Laura Shipler Chico, an actress and facilitator based in London.

Based on your feedback, this session will be focused on addressing resistance and bringing leaders on board. When you register you will have the opportunity to submit your questions in advance, and please do bring further questions with you to the session itself. You don’t have to limit your questions to addressing resistance; this is your opportunity to gain insights from me about any aspect of DEI. I look forward to seeing you there!

Time zones: 10:00 EST 07:00 Pacific 15:00 GMT 16:00 CET 07:30 IST 22:00 Singapore


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