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It seems like corporate America is in the process of revamping everything it knows about the composition of its workforce. For instance, business leaders have realized that having more diverse teams has an immense impact on the bottom line, says Ilit Raz, cofounder and CEO of Joonko, which is focused on building a more equitable workplace for all.

This is also important in project portfolio management, where significant investments are made.

SEE: Diversity and inclusion policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The power behind inclusive leadership

Whether you’re a senior executive or a project management office leader, research shows that diversity of thinking is the new frontier. According to Deloitte’s research, leadership behaviors can create a 70% difference between the number of employees who feel highly included and those who don’t — and this is even stronger for minority group membe

rs. There’s a 17% increase in individual team member feelings in terms of perceived team performance, a 20% increase in decision-making quality and an increase of 29% in collaboration.

This considerable difference outlines the power of leadership behind inclusion efforts.

As a tech provider who helps executives to improve their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, Raz said she’s seeing extensive efforts from those executives to support both internal and external DEI initiatives. “They’re emphasizing recruiting more talent from underrepresented backgrounds, and they’re involving more members of executive teams in the mission to achieve a more inclusive workforce.”

SEE: Hiring kit: Chief diversity officer (TechRepublic Premium)

On the other hand, she explained, it seems that companies are not showcasing their efforts enough, leaving DEI initiatives off the radar, which essentially prevents a broader discussion around the necessity for KPIs and procedures that speak to improvement in DEI over time.

6 inclusive leadership behaviors

In a Harvard Business Review article by Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid, they reported that their research found six leadership behaviors that signal inclusive leadership.

  1. Ensuring that team members speak up and are heard.
  2. Making it safe to propose novel ideas.
  3. Empowering team members to make decisions.
  4. Taking advice and implementing feedback.
  5. Giving actionable feedback.
  6. Sharing credit for team success.

PPM benefits of inclusive leadership

In another study, Juliet Bourke and Andrea Titus found that when leaders are willing and able to develop these behaviors, they can drive optimal PPM performance and make it safe for teams to gain these benefits.

  • Team members who are capable of proposing new and innovative ideas to complex challenges.
  • Teams that can support and help improve decision-making at all levels.
  • Stakeholders who are open to sharing and receiving constructive advice and feedback.
  • Teams and leaders who are willing to share credit for team success.
  • Team members who are open to diversity and inclusion for the greater good of projects and company-wide success.
  • Better-adjusted and connected teams willing to support each other.
  • Less intolerance, animosity and decreased inner conflict.
  • Higher levels of productivity and performance.

Leaders: Make time for DEI

Team culture is set at the leadership levels, and it’s critical for executives and PPM leaders to make a concerted effort to develop diverse teams and an inclusive mindset and culture. It’s not enough to hire diverse people and skill sets and hope for the best; without this intentional effort or shift in mindsets throughout, the benefits to project portfolio performance can’t be fully realized.