As leaders, we’re responsible for enabling all teammates to perform their very best work in a welcoming, comfortable environment. When we talk about prioritizing diversity and inclusivity, we’re empowering myriad thoughts, ideas and creative minds to coalesce around common goals.
This unified leadership approach allows us to emerge stronger, with unique backgrounds and perspectives guiding us toward success.
What is inclusive leadership and how can I foster a diverse work environment? This is a question we're going to dive in in today's episode to. My name is Zee, and we're joined with not only Rich, but at Sarah Penza with us today. Hello, everybody. How are you doing? I'm doing great. How are you? Awesome. Rich. Yeah, I'm doing great.
I'm excited that we have Sarah today. Yes. So this is our second episode. We had a special episode where we interview three leaders and Mastery. We're actually still at Mastery, so we're recording this episode seven now with Sarah today. So it's a record for us. We actually have guests back to back. I know. It's amazing and we've learned so much from all of our guests that we've had on this special edition.
And now Sarah, I'm excited. Also note this is the season finale, so be sure to tune in until the entire episode is finished. We're going to give you some, again, advice. Don't forget to subscribe, to follow us to get updates on future episodes, because I have a feeling the folks that are listening to us because we have actually a pretty good already good following around.
Thank you to all our subscribers and our listeners that they're going to want more content sooner than later, so just keep an eye out for that. But today's topic is around inclusive leadership and how us as leaders, no matter what organization you work for, no matter what your title is, how much of an impact you can make in your organization and around and people with people around you as well.
But with that, Sarah, let's get to know you a little bit better. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do for Insight. Oh, gosh. Well, I've been a teammate at INSIGHT for seven years. I started in the sales enablement part of the organization and I moved into instructional design and then I moved into leadership development and then diversity and inclusion.
So really my my day in, day out is diversity inclusion for United States, Canada and also the European countries. And then, of course, you never talk about like, hey, they she's she's joined insights from the beginning and we knew each other from day one. That's right. So I mean the fun part again, Sarah love about this, about Sarah, every time we introduce each other, she is like, and actually Z was a1a big vital part of why I'm here.
And inside I'm like, Yes, yes, you're welcome, everybody. So speaking of that, you know, you've had experience in various different organizations and different different roles. You're now a senior manager here for diversity, leadership and inclusion. How did how did how did you how did this journey even start? Like, how did you even go this path? Because you had various different roles beforehand before you joined and say, yeah, you know, people ask me this question a lot and I realized that the path to a diversity inclusion role is different for everyone.
But really it started when I was a manager. When I was a manager and I had a team and I realized that, you know, my team was full of people from different parts of the world. I was working in Montreal Cafe at that time in Montreal's a very international city and just the understanding or the the, the adapting that was necessary depending on what was someone who was was was going to through.
Right. We had we had students we had people that were full time. We had young people. We had people who were part of an older generation. Right. And so I would say it's really there that I didn't know the term inclusive leadership at that time, but it was there that I really a bit off, you know, what it what it means to actually bring a group of people together and get them aligned on one one goal.
So I've been lucky throughout my career to always touch that part. You know, I was in management and then I moved into leadership development and leadership development is all about putting pulling the best out of your people. Right. And making sure that they're in a working environment where they can contribute at their best. So of course, moving to diversity inclusion was for me a very logical though not expected.
Yeah, the next step. But you know, when the opportunity came around, I realized that, you know, this is something that I think I can have an impact on. It's a little bit scary sometimes, but it is it is so rewarding when you speak to people, especially in this organization, who have been impacted by the programs that we put into place and also the competence of their their leaders.
Wow. Yeah. And I think a lot of us can relate to Sara, right, that our life takes us so many different directions. We don't sometimes we don't even know what we're going to end up. We probably have some of us might have these amazing plans right out of college or right a school, and then life happens. It takes us so many directions.
And then I love what you just said, though. It's like when that opportunity presents itself. It could be scary because maybe you haven't done it before or maybe it's, you know, it's something that means a lot of you want to do it right. I mean, there's so many factors there. And that's the first question that we're going to ask, right?
Because a lot of our leaders that are joining us are in a role of leadership. Right. Of influencing others. But they're seeing that, hey, I want I want to make an impact or I want to make one. I'm inclusive, I diversity inclusive environment for my organization or my team. So that's the first question. What are the things that leaders can start doing to help foster that?
The diverse and the inclusive environment? Yeah, you know, let's separate those out first of all, right? There's there's diversity and then there's inclusion. And then we can even go into equity and belonging. But I don't know if we have all the time for that. You know, when it comes to diversity, I'm sure you've noticed as well as you know, many people probably in this podcast that, you know, demographics are changing inside organizations and we are starting to see a lot of new smart, intelligent people who are from non traditional parts of this world, or just a nontraditional, just just not the same as it used to be.
Yeah, right. So diversity is is is coming. Diversity is happening whether or not you like it. Right. But when it comes to the inclusion, that's the part that's a little bit trickier. Right? So, you know, there was a study that was done. It was a McKinsey conclusion matters that found that 52% of people in that survey rated their organization positively in terms of diversity.
Right. They were starting to see and feel it, right? Yeah, it would be nice to have more, but it's 52%, right? 29% of them rated their organizations positive for inclusion. And so why is that Right? You know, when it comes to diversity, we have all of these different policies and these practices that we now engage in. Right? We are recruiting in different places.
We are seeing talent and bringing it in from, you know, all all over. Right. Even just the demographic changes in our society are helping that out. So we have all these new practices, these new policies, and that's great for diversity. But inclusion can't be policy, right? There's no policy that's going to make a leader more inclusive. Right. So, you know, when it comes to what a leader has influence over, yes, they have influence over diversity for sure.
But I would say they definitely have influence over the way that those teammates are included in the team. Yeah, right. So in terms of inclusion, you know, there's there's a few things that leaders can be doing. You know, it's funny, I know where I heard this. I think, again, you know, when you have interaction with so many people, you just hear different perspectives and thoughts.
And I know we're at Mastery right now and it's a great opportunity, right, to have those discussions, to see where teammates are at, where leaders are at, and and just their thought process and the things that they're going through. In those conversations. I heard one amazing analogy and let me know your thoughts on this, because as soon as I heard, oh my gosh, I got to tell Sarah about this.
Okay, Diversity is I'm being invited to the party, but inclusion is inviting them to dance. What what do you think? When I saw that, I just want to get your perspective. When I saw, I was like, Oh, yeah, I think that's a great way to describe it. And a way that's accessible that everyone can understand, right? Because everyone has been to that party where they just stood around the wild child, the world.
Yeah. And they weren't invited to dance. They weren't invited to participate. They were there. Right. So that's absolutely what we're talking about with inclusion. Who's dancing on your team? Who's being invited to dance on your team? And let's even take it a step further, right? I mean, it's called Dances are awkward as they are as they are already, especially in your, you know, elementary and high school years.
But even being asked, even even when you're asked to dance, you still hesitate. That's right. And I'm going to make a fool of myself, like I don't know how to dance. Right. All of these things come to mind. And that's I feel it's a lot of similarities as well, because maybe you've never been asked before. So it's like, Well, what do I do?
Can I even let loose or am I going to be just kind of going through the protocol, or am I just going to? I love that. And also that term dance like nobody's watching, right? Like, be yourself, because I don't know how many parties you've been a part of. When everybody is included in everybody's dancing. And being this, I had the best time instead of just a few that are the ones that are expert dancers and making us look silly, right?
It's like, I think that's the world I want to live in. So I when I saw that, I was like, I got to share that with Sarah. I never thought about it that way, but that that is a very nice picture that you are drawing right there. And I would also even add the person who's asking that person to dance, right?
Her answer or always the pop, they're moving up there. How do we ask that person to dance? Yeah, that that works really well. If you consider inclusion because, you know, sometimes as a leader, you know, we know that something is off, but we don't quite know exactly how to approach it. And you talk about, you know, a lot of times we think I like to talk about policy and stuff that are within organizational, the scope of the organization.
But as a leader, you have so much you can do. And I think we talked about this before we leave before the show is that we don't realize how much influence we have as leaders that we can make such a big impact. It just control what you can control. So what other advice would you have for those leaders that still are hesitant and be like, Yeah, but you know, I'm only one leader out of thousands or hundreds in my organization, how am I truly going to make an impact?
Is there any advice you want to give them? Yeah, and I would say the first thing is you can't be hesitant, which I know is terrible to go do and say, but you've got to. Right. So, you know, when we speak about inclusive leadership and we think of that sphere of influence, it is your team. And if that person, if somebody is on your team, it is absolutely imperative that you do the necessary work to make sure that they are included on that team or else, you know, you're they're just not contributing at the highest level that they they can.
So there's a couple of things that that that leaders can do. And I would say the first thing is good Ole get to know that person you should really understand. Well so Franklin Covey, you know, has again done some amazing research for many different topics, but they did some research on this and they found that the most inclusive leaders were able to answer three questions about their people.
The first question is what are they most excited about? The second one is where they most worried about, and the third one was where do they see themselves in three years? So inclusive leaders knew that about their people and they knew it accurately about their people as as well accurately meaning that it wasn't just their assumptions. They had actually spoken to their person.
Right. So, you know, it is it is important as leaders that we get to know the people who we're where we're leading. Right. And I know some people think, well, you know, there's some we all know that we've all felt that one teammate or that one that we're like, oh, I am not meshing with this person. Right. And that's understandable.
A lot of times we respect what people want in terms of their their privacy. So if we approach someone, for instance, at a dance and they say they don't want to dance with us, right? Yeah, we respect that. And we just we back off, right? We can't do that as leaders if they're on your team. We need to find a way to dance with them.
Right. So sitting, spending the time with your teammate asking questions, maybe not those three direct questions, because that might be a little crazy if you ask your person those three questions. Excuse me, they might get a bit a little bit scared. Right. Taken back because it but there are other questions you can ask them in terms of, you know, what are they finding the most difficult in their job right now?
What are they liking the most about their job? Lots of different questions to really understand those three aspects. Yeah, so something that just kind of popped in my head. So we kind of heard the benefits in our last episode of, you know, that diversity piece. But I definitely want to hear more about your opinions on this as well.
But what is it that can really strengthen or what are the benefits of having the diversity and inclusivity on your team? Like how do you and how do you leverage both right and from your perspective? Yeah, it's it's all around. It is perspective. It is absolutely perspective. And the experiences that people who are different bring to your group.
And when I say different, you know, when we speak about diversity, inclusion, we're often stuck in gender and ethnicity. But there is so much more going on right there. Socioeconomic status. I mean, there's there's there's disability, of course, veteran status. You know, these are the main ones that we track. But, you know, floating under there is is also very excuse me is a neurodivergent.
You can't usually see that religion is floating there. Age. There's some studies that show that age is actually the most rampant form of discrimination in the world. Right. But all this to say is all when you meet someone, you see their ethnicity and their gender first. But there is so much floating under the water there in terms of diversity.
So the first thing is just being open to people who think differently than you do, Right? When we talk about inclusion, it is pulling that out, bringing that out into your team, into your team discussions, valuing what everyone has to to say, understanding that at the end you all have to align on a a common goal, right? And so there are ways to to do this.
There are ways to we had already spoken about connecting with your teammates. Right. There's also ways to make sure that even your team culture is an inclusive culture and it has to be very intentional, too. A lot of times we think that we can we can sit back and then our teammates are going to just find this magical way back working together.
Right? And that is absolutely not true. Every team has its norms, right? And the norms of today will change depending on who's leaving that team and who is joining that team. And so what inclusive leaders do is they're very intentional about setting those norms, about getting their team together and say, hey, let's talk about these norms, maybe not in those words, but let's talk about these norms.
Let's talk about if this happens, what are we going to do as a team? And let's commit to that right. And Oh, sorry, guys. No, no, no. Go ahead. Go ahead. I'm sorry. I was just going to add that. And inevitably someone will break the norm and that's fine. So an inclusive leader as well follows up immediately and make sure that that norm is adhered to.
I really like that. Another question that kind of stems from that are just my thought process behind it was I bet it probably makes teams gel and click more though once you once you pull out that inclusion and get everybody to the party and start inviting everybody to the dance. Oh yeah. And you'll find a mutual respect and that's really what you're going for.
Because remember, not everyone is always going to like everybody, not all of your your your, your your teammates are going to like you. You know, I want to go out to a beer with you. Right. And you're not going to want to go out to beer with all of your teammates as well necessarily. But you can all have a healthy respect for each other.
Yeah, a lot of times it's interesting when we hear like, you know, we do a lot of trainings around confidence and presentations and some people even in sales, right? It's like, hey, when you're talking to a client, talk like you're talking to a family member. The first thing that goes in my mind is that our family, family members get along.
So maybe that's not you know, it's like it's different for me, but it is by saying, hey, respect, right? You have that level of respect because it's different for everybody. Right? And I love that that example, because we always will always take family safety in teams. They should get along. They work together as leaders. It says, going back to our previous episodes, they talked about as a leader, we have a responsibility.
And part of that responsibility is also being an inclusive leader. And I think that's one that, you know, maybe isn't highly talked about as much, but I think it's more relevant than ever and needs to be talked about even more and put it to the front, because that is something that we just can't lose sight of. One thing you said, Sarah, that really stands out to me is, you know, we do have trainings around difficult conversation, fierce conversations in the first year.
The first thing that clicked for me is like, Hey, we have to address this elephant in the room, right? Yeah. The things that nobody's speaks about a leader, that's our responsibility is to bring it to the table and talk it out. And if you are an inclusive leader, everybody's going to back to the party and dance to talk and share those things.
But that's how you know, you won't know if nobody's saying anything. Everything's fine. Everything's good. I'm fine. Is it? And may I add something? And they're not all going to agree. Yeah, and that's okay, though. And that's okay. That's absolutely okay. The important thing is, at the end we do arrive at a resolution. Usually people just want to be understood.
Yeah, usually people are okay if you don't agree with them, but if you leave them with feeling that you listen to them and you understood them and you took their you took their input as valuable. Yeah, then you're on the way to figuring out, okay, how are we going to move forward on any particular situation or decision. Yeah.
And again, we can spend I mean, oh my gosh, this episode should have been even like the time flies. We were having this great discussion. So before we start to wrap up, I know you give us a lot of great stat strategies. One of the things that leaders and organizations look at is measurement, right? How do we measure this?
How do we know, first of all, in a positive way, saying how do we know we're making an impact? How do you know that we're making a difference, that we're seeing a change? Is there any suggestion strategies that you have around that that can benefit some of our leaders in organization? Yeah. I mean, when it comes to diversity and inclusion, there is a whole subset that's related to data and what data to collect and what they have to look at and, you know, goals and that evil word of quota, which, you know, you never really want to quotas are not great things as myself holders are not great things, but I would say when we're
speaking about inclusive leadership, the real measurement is your team and their engagement. So I know that their organization, organizations absolutely do engagement surveys. That is that is true. But you know, what I would do is how often are you speaking with your people? What are you speaking about? Right. And again, can you answer those three questions? That, for me is a more important measurement of a team than any number in terms of, you know, who who identifies as this, who identifies as this would define this.
Right. And when I bring someone into the team. Right. Am I understanding what is happening to my cultural norms and maybe adjusting my cultural norms? Right. Because you might be starting with a group of you might be starting with a group of men who do have diversity in the way that they're thinking, but they're all men, right? And then a woman joins your group.
And, you know, she is also a caretaker of kids and a parent as well. And all of a sudden, that dynamic changes. 100, 100. It changes quite a bit. Right. And just imagine all the differences that can pop up on a team. So if I was a leader, I would be I would be mostly concerned with the engagement of every teammate that is that is that is on my my team and whether or not I'm understanding these aspects of them and also whether or not I'm understanding how they're diverse dimension might be popping up for them.
We didn't speak a lot about that, but how much is this popping up for them in their everyday as well? Because there are there are barriers to inclusion for people who are find themselves in in minority groups. And it's important that leaders and those teammates can have those frank discussions about it and and figure out ways to to to work through them.
So, yes. So is that. Wow. Oh, my gosh. You know, again, again, you know, this is a this is going to be like a this is one point now we're going to have following interviews here with Sarah on this and even various different I mean, we have amazing leaders at INSIGHT that are leading the way as well, that are that are demonstrating.
They're not only their full time job and what they do in their expertise, but they're also involved. It's impressive. Sarah, I know we can have a whole session on the stories of the impact and the things that we've seen from leaders and teammates in our different efforts and and when they're in the dance. But Rich, what what were some of the highlights of today's episode?
Yeah, just being conscious of those, you know, socioeconomic different there's many different aspects of diversity, right. And so that's something else that, you know, we probably don't really take into consideration. We just think ethnicity most most of the time that's what people think of. But there's different levels, different aspects. So that's something that definitely be conscious of and bring to the table.
And then also, you know, fostering that inclusivity, right? You definitely want to make sure everybody feels like a part of the team rather than just like singling out one or two or just having this group that dances and other groups like just sitting off on the sidelines, right? So, yeah, no, those are amazing highlights. Sarah, any final thoughts as we wrap up?
Any any final suggestions, tips as we come up with the end? This episode today? My biggest tip for any leader is to be intentional about all of this and to not just not just let it go, not just think things are going to to work out, but really be intentional about about understanding your teammates and also understanding your team culture and building that team culture and include your team in building that culture.
Well said. That's great. Yeah. Thank you so much, Sarah. You've definitely brought many different perspectives into the discussion of just diversity and inclusion, inclusivity that I never even, you know, it never even crossed my mind. You know, I try to make everybody on my team feel included, you know, regardless of what that looks like diversity wise. But, you know, you've opened the eyes for many today.
So we really appreciate that. Thanks. Thanks so much. Yeah. Thanks for joining us today on our season finale. Please be sure to turn on your alerts and catch up on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube so you can catch us in season two.
Z Tinoco is a diversity, leadership & organization development manager who believes in building teams, inspiring minds and creating authentic connections. He helps people reach their goals and find success through humor, leadership and a diverse mindset.
Richard is an experienced paid media specialist with a proven track record of creating and executing successful campaigns across various platforms. Richard has a passion for tackling new challenges, connecting with people and loves all things tech.