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Undercover Manager Activities

Chapter 11: Creating an Inclusive Workplace

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11.1 Practicing Inclusive Leadership

Undercover Manager 

Activity 11.1 

Practicing Inclusive Leadership

In Chapter 11 (Creating an Inclusive Workplace), we explain that inclusion is, by definition, about employees’ experience. Managers are often poor judges of their own inclusivity, so we encourage you to practice inclusion behavior and proactively seek out feedback as your skills develop. One strategy is to prepare – in advance – inclusive responses to common management scenarios (e.g., a request for work from home arrangements, a new project team, an employee suggestion, a microaggression, an interview shortlist). This activity is based on a series of scenarios that Catalyst, a nonprofit organization, developed to measure inclusive behavior.

Please don’t use the resource quiz scenarios to evaluate your inclusion performance! The most inclusive option is usually pretty obvious, so you should score very high. The purpose of this activity is to apply L-E-S-S is more thinking. If it’s so easy to recognize the inclusive behavior option, why don’t managers display inclusive behaviors more frequently and consistently? For each scenario, you should consider how your Local Context and anticipated Stakeholder reactions might create barriers to inclusive behavior.

Here’s one example, based on Scenario #9 in the Catalyst quiz: You are on the team interviewing for a new important position at your company, one that the company has struggled to fill. Reflecting on the shortlisted candidates, you realize that they are all men. What do you do?

(a) You’ve interviewed several candidates and the job needs to be filled ASAP, so you recommend the best person out of those you’ve interviewed.

(b) You tell the team that it would be better to have a more diverse slate, but it’s been difficult to find the right candidate, so you proceed with hiring anyway. At least you tried!

(c) You tell the hiring team that you will not make a recommendation until at least two women are shortlisted to interview. You recommend that the company reach out to more diverse sources in their recruiting.

The option that demonstrates the most awareness of diversity and inclusion is (c) but it’s a challenging one for an individual manager to implement. Slowing the hiring process will cost your company time and money; you could experience backlash from colleagues and senior leadership. Anticipating these barriers, you can develop strategies for addressing them (e.g., your personal stand might be more effective if it is linked to company goals for greater diversity). Most importantly, try to generate inclusive actions that are proactive rather than reactive (e.g., you might learn to express your inclusion criteria at earlier stages of the recruitment process).

You can bring the most challenging scenarios to your Kitchen Cabinet (Undercover Manager 1.1) for discussion, with the goal of identifying opportunities where you can build inclusion into your own workplace. And you might want to reread Chapter 4 (Interviewing Job Applicants) at this point. Organizations might want to assess inclusive behavior of managerial applicants by presenting situational questions (like these scenarios) and evaluating the answers using an anchored rating scale. But situational interview questions only measure whether individuals know the right thing to do – the organization needs to provide contextual support when individuals do the right thing.

Inclusive leadership scenarios:

Catalyst. (2020, February 11). Are you an inclusive leader? (Quiz).  

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