Inclusion Residency: Join the Transformation – Diversity and Inclusion Matters

By Dr. Robin Stacia, President/Principal Consultant, Sage Consulting Network, Inc.

For organizational leaders and boards of directors to perform at their highest level, diversity and inclusion need to be approached as a top priority.

In the Deloitte Review’s 2018 article The Diversity and Inclusion Revolution: Eight Powerful Truths (Bourke and Dillon), through their review of 50 global organizations, they found that these organizations attributed their success to having inclusive environments and cultures.

“Highly diverse and inclusive work environments result in better strategy, better risk management, better debates, and better outcomes.”

Juliet Bourke, The Diversity and Inclusion Revolution: Eight Powerful Truths 

VRSA is asking this same important question, “what can our local, state, and municipal leaders do to intentionally lead on inclusion, and achieve these same impressive results?”

To support this aspiration, VRSA is inviting you to join us on a journey that will guide VRSA members through a process of intentional learning, experiential and deep discussions about the critical leadership practices that are central to achieving high-performing, diverse and inclusive organizations.

This is more than diversity and inclusion training. VRSA and myself are creating experiential, inspiring, and practical training experiences that will raise awareness, teach skills, surface unspoken beliefs, and create a shared language and understanding. This experience will result in leadership growth and increased cultural competency. There are three leadership imperatives that all organization and board leaders will explore during the diversity and inclusion series.

#1: Demonstrate Culturally Competent Leadership

In today’s highly charged political environment, it is important that local leaders have the confidence and the capability to hold culturally competent conversations. Leaders must gain the knowledge and skills that are essential to successfully create a shared vision with their teams, communities, and stakeholders.

More specifically, leaders must demonstrate cultural agility, which is the ability to be self-aware, open, and flexible when engaging in cross-cultural interactions. Because culture itself is expressed broadly – and includes not only culture related to race, ethnicity, gender, and age – but also cultural beliefs, shared experiences, and ways of experiencing the world – cross-cultural interactions are an important part of every leader’s daily interactions.

Leaders must spend time learning, listening, and engaging in open discussions about diversity and inclusion. The benefits of inclusivity are achieved when leaders spend time working diligently to understand the holistic view of diversity and inclusion.

This viewpoint includes understanding that cultivating demographic and cognitive diversity results in workplace teams and culture that represents perspectives and insights that increase creativity and enhance innovation. Our goal is to assist VRSA members to increase their competence and ability to communicate and lead effectively both within their work environments and communities.

#2: Believe in the Value of Diverse Thinking

The past two years have been a turbulent time for most leaders, who have led through COVID-19 and its corresponding economic challenges, managed a remote workforce, and interacted with communities experiencing a myriad of challenges made up of diverse citizens with unique needs.

These issues require a team of employees, stakeholders, and partners who collectively bring diverse ways of thinking, unique lived experiences, a broad range of curiosity, and importantly – perspectives, that frame a shared belief that everyone is relevant.

#3: Embrace Diversity and Inclusion as a Leadership Imperative

Organizational leaders are often clear about what demographic diversity means, although they are typically unclear about a strategy to achieve it. Likewise, researchers find that leaders are unclear about what inclusion means and how to achieve it within their organizations.

Advancing inclusion requires that leaders support the presence of an environment and practices that allow employees to experience:

  • Fairness and respect, without favoritism;
  • Feeling valued and a sense of belonging;
  • Being valued for their unique and authentic selves;
  • Feeling safe to speak up without fear; and
  • Being empowered to grow, have opportunities to lead, and have a voice in decision-making.

This is not easy work, and it’s not accomplished through a one-session training, webinar, or book. Leaders must be intentional about participating in diversity and inclusion training, engaging in discussions about diversity and inclusion, implicit bias, and understanding that practices and processes that elevate both diversity and inclusion.

Through prioritizing diversity and inclusion, you are committing to transformational work that will benefit your organization and community. Join us on this journey; we’re ready to move forward with you.

Training for Chief Appointed Officials

The following training opportunities will be offered for chief appointed officials.

  • Thursday, Sept. 23, 9 a.m.: Session 1 – Achieving A Shared Understanding, register
  • Thursday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m.: Session 2 – Leadership Imperative, register
  • Thursday, Jan. 20, 9 a.m.: Session 3 – Inclusive Leadership Skills, register
  • Thursday, March 10, 9 a.m.: Session 4 – Inclusivity in Action, register

General Membership Training

The following training opportunities will be offered for all members.

  • Thursday, Oct. 14, 9 a.m.: Inclusivity and Governing Body Practices, register
  • Thursday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m.: Inclusivity and Team Practices, register