Inclusive Leadership – Uncovering Our Biases

"Despite a steady effort to get after this, we’re making no progress."
CNO / Personal For – No Bystanders

How do we disrupt leader development for more positive outcomes?

Leaders MUST not only be able to embrace individual differences, but leverage them for competitive advantage. The Navy depends on it.

“The best teams are rarely made up of similar types. On the contrary, they are composed of a diversity of excellence. If one is open-minded and objective, different types of people on a team will also help over time further self-awareness and deepen appreciation for the variety inherent in patterns of success.” (Anthony Tjan, CEO, Cue Ball)

Inclusive leadership.

It starts with knowing yourself.

We must rethink how we are approaching this cultural problem and it starts with growing ourselves – knowing…really knowing…our own identity.

But our biases get in the way. And...everyone has them.

"The idea that everyone holds biases and that there is nothing wrong with having them is a core tenet of unconscious-bias training."

Merely teaching it in a cerebral way falls short. Most of us already understand right from wrong – it’s putting it into practice that suffers.

Common knowledge...for most...

but NOT common practice.

Learning to uncover hidden biases must be personal and real-time. Experiential is the only way – we can’t call out a person’s unconscious bias. Learning must be in a leader-led environment. On the spot. In the field. In the moment of reflection.


First Salvo: The just released April cover story in The Atlantic, “Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful To Women?” states the following:

For several years, Silicone Valley has been pouring millions into this problem…with little satisfaction. "Some of America's most (ostensibly) progressive companies have, year after year, failed to uproot a sexism in their culture that has been widespread, persistent, and scarring."

** Workplace conditions, a lack of access to key creative roles, and a sense of feeling stalled are the main reasons women leave.

** A recent survey called “Elephant in the Valley” found that nearly all of the 200-plus senior women in tech who responded had experienced sexist interactions.

** Until we see changes in the way we work, I don’t think we’re going to crack this nut!

Second Salvo: This week, Harvard Business Review published an article written by two USNA professors, Dr. Brad Johnson and Dr. David Smith entitled, "Too Many Men Are Silent Bystanders to Sexual Harassment".

** There are two common threads through all of these stories. First, a few men are objectifying, disrespecting, and harassing female colleagues. Second, and far more troubling, lots of men are bystanders, silent and impotent in the face of a toxic workplace.

** In our view, there is a profound distinction between passive gender inclusion (attendance at diversity and gender workshops, working to avoid harassment and bias in one’s own relationships) and active gender inclusion (demanding respect and equity for women, in both word and deed, especially when no woman is watching). It turns out that many men are abysmally inaccurate at assessing the extent to which they are active allies for women and minority groups at work.

** When men get mired in the passive stage of gender inclusion, never daring to become active watchdogs for respect and inclusion, we see a failure of both moral imagination — how a dignified and respectful workplace for women might look and how it might benefit women, men, and the organization’s bottom line — and moral courage.

The degree to which an individual views moral duties is the most important determinant as to the likelihood that beliefs will be translated into actions.