Puzzle group_ShutterstockThe war for talent is real, and it’s critical to tap into the skills of all of your team. Without an inclusive approach that just isn’t going to happen. If your team are checking half of their capability at the door in an effort to ‘fit in’ you are missing out.

Are you tapping into the global know-how in your organisation? Nearly half of the Australian population were born overseas or have a parent born overseas.  Do you know who in your team speaks a second language and what it is? Around 1 in 5 Australians speak a language other than English at home.

The capability to access and leverage this diversity is critical for achieving results in a rapidly changing and globalising business environment.

Inclusive leaders recognise the world is not always comprised of people like them. The more they ‘get’ this and tap into the diversity of their teams, the more they are likely to access and meet the needs of new markets, drive business innovation and performance.  As participants in the Beasley Intercultural Inclusive Leadership program have discovered “It’s not about treating everyone the same.”  It’s critical to know your team members, to understand the unique perspectives, life experience and skills they bring to the table.  To do this requires creating a team culture where people are comfortable enough to speak up, to disagree respectfully and to share what they know.

Be very very careful of simply judging others based on ‘visible diversity’ or ‘visible difference’.  Particularly in a culturally diverse context such as Australia, it’s very risky to assume you can identify someones’ culture based on the colour of their skin.  Diversity comprises life experience, gender, age, culture and a whole lot more.  As so effectively parodied in Rentaminority.com   there’s a lot more to diversity than the way someone looks or the label you asign them.

Knowing the diversity of your team means you can support each and every team member to be the best they can be. As Aretha Franklin so eloquently sang, ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T – find out what it means to me’.  Everyone is unique, and it’s critical to recognise and respond to that uniqueness in your approach as a leader.