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Part 1: Leading with Inclusivity: Strategies from Women in Leadership Roles Part 1 of 4

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

I am an Asian American woman in leadership. For most of my career, there were not women at the table that looked like me. It made me think about why that was, but it didn’t slow me down. As the Diversity Equity and Inclusion movement emerged, it made me think more of who I am, where my roots lay, and how I show up given my background. I also slowly started to see a few women who looked like me in leadership roles. But not enough.

Women leaders have a great opportunity to lead with inclusivity. To really understand the potential, I sat down with Diversity and Inclusion expert, Sarah Lewis. Sarah is the Vice President of Equity at Hartford Healthcare and has been my mentor in all things DEIB. In this 4-part series, we will explore the role of women leaders in creating inclusive environments for women of all backgrounds to thrive.

Elise: Sarah, when you think about the role of women leaders and inclusivity, what comes to mind?

Sarah: Making additional space for more women, especially with intersecting identities:

  • Having principles for inclusion: assuming a unique background, story and voice- there is wealth and richness and depth. Curiosity is key here.

  • Some women identities are not used to being heard and has been marginalized. This takes care to bring their voices out.

  • Giving permission to be themselves- not repackage themselves to fit a mold

  • Women have a more integrated way of problem solving and solutions- they bring their whole experiences. When I encounter a woman who is bringing this- I validate, expand, honor the emotional impacts with empathy.

Elise: What do all leaders need to know about inclusivity?

Sarah: These are my thoughts:

  • I don’t have to put myself into a box of male dominance

  • The time to onboarding- create the opportunity to optimize every single hire

  • Have pathways for success based on what employees CAN do- you need to know and harness their potential

  • Being vulnerable- give opportunities to skill up and explore new potential

  • What I love about this conversation is it allows me to think differently and create my own path for inclusivity with those I work with and clients I serve. My take-away is the most inclusive environments are personalized and out-of-the-box.

What does leading with inclusivity look like to you, and how will you create inclusive environments where you work?

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