In today’s world where diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) is a fundamental business imperative — one that organizations of all sizes must embrace to succeed — leadership coaching plays a pivotal role in driving change. But, how?
Effective DEIB-focused coaching not only enables leaders to be more inclusive in their approach, but it also helps hold leaders accountable for promoting equity across the organization – and driving results.
According to McKinsey’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lighthouses 2023, the top five success factors that contribute to an impactful DEIB program include:
- Nuanced understanding of root cause
- Meaningful definition of success
- Accountable and invested business leaders
- Solutions designed for context (and scale)
- Rigorous tracking and course correction
Leadership coaching can help address all five of these factors; in particular by helping to understand the root cause (or areas of opportunity), holding leaders accountable for producing results, and providing a scalable solution that fits into the flow of work with data and insights.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the fundamentals of DEIB-focused leadership coaching, as well as some best practices for creating an impactful program backed by leadership coaching.
Understanding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)
In the modern workplace, understanding and embracing DEIB is critical. By fostering a culture built on mutual respect and harmony among employees of different backgrounds, you set your business up for ubiquitous success and profitability.
Of course, the first step to embracing DEIB is understanding what it truly means.
- Diversity refers to the range of characteristics and experiences that make individuals unique, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, ability, socioeconomic status, and more.
- Equity refers to leveling the playing field. Not to be confused with equality, equity is the idea of having fair and just treatment of individuals by taking into consideration the unique challenges they face. For example, since women make up only a small percentage of leadership in corporate America, in order for us to reach gender equity, we need even more access to learning and development opportunities then our male counterparts.
- Inclusion involves creating a workplace culture where everyone’s unique perspectives and experiences are valued, celebrated, and sought out equally without judgment. All of this results in greater productivity and job satisfaction.
- Belonging encompasses the feeling of acceptance and support within the workplace, where employees feel that they can comfortably be themselves. As the famous quote from Verna Myers goes, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Well, if inclusion is being asked to dance, then belonging means having the psychological safety to be able to get up and change the song.
Addressing Opportunities for DEIB with Leadership Coaching
Leadership coaching is an ideal tool in understanding and addressing your company-specific DEI opportunity areas. With coaching, leaders of all levels are able to receive personalized feedback on their behaviors, thoughts, and actions; thus helping them to identify, close, and stay accountable for realizing gaps in self-awareness.
Think of it this way: we all have unconscious bias, right? Coaching helps us become more self-aware and able to uncover those biases, address them head on, and take us one step closer to becoming the most inclusive leaders we can be.
With a better understanding of unconscious biases – and an action plan to address them – leaders become inherently more effective in their approach to creating an inclusive workplace. By meeting with a coach regularly, leaders can track their behaviors over time and even utilize resources offered by digital coaching to progress in between coaching sessions.
Ultimately, leadership coaching provides a unique opportunity for leaders to become more aware of their own biases and take actionable steps towards creating an inclusive work culture.
Creating a Culture of Trust with Group Coaching and Team Coaching
Both team coaching and group coaching can help provide underrepresented communities with a safe space to have open and honest conversations.
Through group coaching, employees from various teams and levels of the business can share their experiences, insights, and concerns with others who have faced similar challenges, offering a unique level of understanding and empathy. The peer support network can provide a sense of belonging, build confidence, and increase resilience, particularly in those who may feel isolated or marginalized in their workplace. With hybrid work on the rise, this becomes critical in helping employees combat loneliness and feel more connected to their colleagues on a personal level.
With team coaching, which focuses on helping specific teams get aligned on their goals and activity, disparate team members gain access to valuable feedback and guidance. And with many teams operating in different locations and time zones, this level of transparency may not be otherwise available.
By promoting open and honest conversations, team coaching and group coaching can help underrepresented communities identify and address any implicit biases or barriers that may exist within their organization. This helps address the root cause of any diversity or inclusion barriers and encourages employees to contribute to course correction.
What to Look for in a Leadership Coach
When seeking a leadership coach who can help you cultivate self-awareness and uncover hidden biases, there are several key factors to consider. First, it is important to look for a coach who is well-versed in the science of coaching and is highly accredited.
Second, you want to look for someone who is experienced in the field of DEIB. This means ensuring they have a solid understanding of the issues surrounding diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, and how these issues specifically tie back to your role and the organization you support. You may even want to select a coach who shares a similar background to you and can relate to your experience. On the other hand, you may want to select a coach with a different view on the world, to help you uncover new ideas and viewpoints for continual growth and discovery.
Luckily, AceUp’s industry-leading coach network represents rich diversity in experience, backgrounds, geography, language, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. This means that every employee can find the perfect match!
Finally, it’s important to look for a coach who is committed to holding you accountable for outputs surrounding DEIB initiatives. When interviewing your coaches, be sure to ask questions like, ‘How will we help each other stay accountable over the course of our relationship?’, or ‘Can you give me an example of a time you helped a coachee stay accountable? What did success look like in that instance?’
These type of questions will help you get a feel for their commitment to DEIB accountability before you commit to working with them.
It’s clear that DEIB-focused coaching is one of the most effective tools available to businesses for driving diversity and inclusion initiatives that actually make an impact.
Leadership coaches are experienced professionals who have the knowledge, expertise, and certifications to provide important guidance in helping us tackle unconscious bias and create a more equitable business environment. With a personalized approach to leadership development across all levels, practitioners can build stronger teams that are more productive and inclusive – and businesses that are more successful.