Inclusivity shouldn’t be some feel-good philosophy limited to the company website or Founder’s Day celebrations. An inclusive culture is crucial to an organization’s growth. It gives companies a significant edge in innovation and product development and makes it easy to hire the right talent.
Leadership’s Role: Giving Voice to Everyone
The most powerful way is by empowering everyone in the organization to develop ideas. Jack was absolutely adamant about it. As he used to say, “You want every voice in your organization coming at you with ideas.”
Every voice comes with ideas. That’s a compelling statement and a dictum to manage. That principle underlines the belief that employees aren’t there to do the routine shifts and the mandated tasks. They are also there for their imagination and their problem-solving abilities.
“You don’t just want their hands. You want their brains.” That’s how Jack used to put it.
But giving voice to everyone goes beyond an appreciation of their intelligence. When you say every brain in the game is essential, you also state that anybody’s idea will count.
An idea shouldn’t be judged based on the individual who thinks of it. The quality of the idea will be the only factor. Not the person’s position in the hierarchy, their education, or how much they make. It doesn’t matter if the individual is in the mailroom or the C-suite. What should matter is the quality of their idea.
When an organization institutionalizes that, it becomes inclusive.
That process is also profoundly empowering. Jack believed that every person has a better way of doing something. You want everyone to feel they can find a better way every day. You should get them to think, “How do I improve? How do I contribute?”
Such an inclusive culture will generate fresh ideas and unique approaches that the leadership may not have previously considered. Problems will now become solvable, that too in a shorter span. When trainees feel as empowered as decades-old veterans to think of new ideas, previously unknown opportunities may become visible.
You may create better products. You may discover new markets. You may grow at a faster pace. Every voice has the potential to change the trajectory of the company.
This means that unique voices should be rewarded. It shouldn’t be just general appreciation. Leadership must publicly reward the individuals behind the ideas with adequate compensation and other benefits. Everyone should see what a great idea can bring to its creator. That will encourage others to constantly think and innovate.
Besides giving a competitive edge in the market, inclusivity can do much more. An inclusive culture makes an organization more meritocratic and participatory. Importantly, it will also make hiring and retaining the right talent easier.
A good idea can come from anywhere. Therefore, ideas should be heard from anyone and everywhere.