Inclusive Leaders Inspire Trust and Innovation - Lead Inclusively

Inclusive Leaders Inspire Trust and Innovation

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Trust is one of the most important elements of anyone’s personal or professional life. In many ways, without trust, it is almost impossible to achieve anything. Be it a strong relationship with a significant other, or a larger corporate merger or bi-partisan compromise in key legislation, or the management of your everyday team; trust issues can be a huge negative factor in undermining the success of individuals, organizations, and even entire countries. Inclusive leaders are key to inspiring trust and innovation.

From a global ‘business trust crisis‘ to a ‘fake news epidemic‘ to the workplace gender disconnect (e.g. #metoo), there are seemingly trust issues all around us. But some companies are doing it right. Companies with a strong culture of trust produce more innovative, engaged and happier employees (to learn more, see our recent webinar about ‘unlocking happier workplaces’).

So what are some areas that companies and their leaders can focus on to create a strong culture of trust? And how do these areas affect a company and societal success? Let’s discuss:

Inclusive Leaders are Transparent

We sat down with Joel Peterson, JetBlue Chairman, and global thought-leader, to discuss the impact of transparency in building an organizational culture of trust. Transparency is one of the key mechanisms that can effectively bridge the gap between a company’s leadership and its workforce. This becomes increasingly important with a younger generation entering the workforce with a more wary perspective of systems and institutions than their predecessors (i.e. the University system and housing market).

Transparent companies are more successful at inspiring their workforce to invest in a common mission. companies with transparency are not afraid to provide insights into decision making, which builds trust in leadership and company process. Companies that are not transparent send the message that their workforce is not worthy of receiving key insights, creating internal skepticism of leadership that destroys company morale.

Inclusive Leaders are Accountable

Everyone makes mistakes. From the social media intern to the C-suite, individuals make mistakes that negatively impact a company to varying degrees. When leaders show accountability for their own mistakes, they show their teams that they are self-aware, which establishes credibility. A lack of accountability also hinders the free exchange of authentic feedback which in turn stifles individual and team growth. Accountability is a key tool that can turn a mistake into an opportunity to build a stronger team culture. Leaders who are accountable themselves then inspire their teams to be accountable as well, which creates dynamics of trust rather than fear or resentment.

Inclusion is Key to a Culture of Trust

Diversity and Inclusion ROI

In a nutshell, inclusive leaders are effective at connecting with the individuals on their teams. This allows leaders to set up their people for success. Inclusive organizations are trusting because they embrace and are invested in everyone’s individual success. This creates a dynamic of mutual respect that allows organizations to be transparent and accountable with their workforce. In turn, the workforce of an inclusive organization feels a sense of connection and belonging to an organization and its goals.

When all is said and done, a culture of inclusion creates open lines of communication between organizational leadership and the larger workforce. When a culture of inclusion and trust is achieved, individuals, teams, and companies are empowered to innovate.

What do you think?

What do you think about the correlation between inclusion and trust? Do you believe that this correlation can directly impact innovation and business performance? I would love to hear your thoughts and invite you to join our newsletter if you care to keep up with future conversations like this one.

Unlocking Happier Workplaces - webinar recording
Workplace Diversity Advocates

Advocating for Workplace Diversity as the Office ‘White Guy’

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Efforts in advancing workplace diversity and equity have made encouraging strides in recent years. However, despite these trends, most Diversity and Inclusion practitioners readily admit that internal policy and compliance initiatives will only advance workplace diversity so far.  

A larger transformation of workplace culture is necessary to advance and sustain workplace diversity while also increasing innovation. To achieve this transformation, we will need help from members of non-divers workplace demographics groups. In many cases (but not all), these are affectionately known as the ‘White Guys’ 

As we work to embed and sustain inclusive workplace culture, the ‘white guy’ will continue to be a vital catalyst for workplace diversity by transforming the current leadership culture that exists consciously or subconsciously in many workplaces today. Here’s how:  

Fighting the myth that workplace diversity is tokenism 

In a conversation I had with Intuit Chief Architect Alex Balazs, we discussed the misperception that workplace diversity is tokenism and how that continues to be one of the biggest hurdles that workplace diversity advocates need to address.  

Unfortunately, too many key stakeholders and decision-makers still view diversity initiatives as compliance and quota-driven initiatives that don’t bear a business ROI. This dynamic continues to not only act as a barrier to advancing diverse professionals up the corporate ladder but also to unfairly limit the success and credibility of diverse professionals who are fortunate enough to advance past a certain level.  

Diversity advocates need to increasingly ramp up their efforts to combat this narrative and getting non-diverse leadership figures increasingly joining these efforts will be vital to their success. The sooner we can tackle this obstacle with the help of our non-diverse leaders, the sooner we can build equitable workplaces that effectively connect the right talent with the right professional opportunity, regardless of gender and race. 

Understanding that sponsorship is vital to workplace diversity 

Research continues to highlight the importance of sponsorship as it relates to career advancement and shows that diverse professionals continue to not receive the same level of professional sponsorship as others. We need our majority group leaders to become more inclusive if we are to achieve equal sponsorship in our workplaces. Without equal sponsorship, companies will continue to miss the mark in placing the right talent with the right job opportunity. The result of failing to do so is squandered innovation and, eventually, mass attrition.  

Empowering diverse professionals with sponsors is not a compliance issue, it is a business imperative. All leaders, but especially those who are members of a majority demographic group, need to take it upon themselves to build relationships with ALL the members on their teams to best understand their talents and connect them with the right opportunities.  

Being the ‘White Guy’ advocate 

As a member of a majority group, the first step to being a positive advocate for your diverse colleagues is to take a step back and listen. Majority-group individuals can best empower their diverse colleagues by augmenting their voices. Many well-intentioned allies start off passionately advocating for workplace diversity, but in doing so may unintentionally take the focus and voice away from their diverse colleagues. By nature, non-diverse leaders are inherently less qualified to speak on workplace diversity. However, they are often far more equipped to empower it by elevating the voice of those who might not have as significant a platform. Sometimes the best way to help is to do less and listen more! 

Putting It All Together 

At the end of it all, our role as change agents in the workplace is to create a culture that gives everyone an equal voice, so diverse professionals are empowered to take their careers into their own hands in ways that traditionally have not existed for them. Members of majority demographics continue to hold the preponderance of stakeholder and decision-making positions in most workplaces. Without their sponsorship of workplace diversity, our internal workplace cultures will continue to limit diverse professionals and squander innovation indefinitely.  


What’s Next?

There are a few things we can all do to be better advocates of workplace diversity. We can start by understanding the business benefits of Diversity and Inclusion as a tool for advocacy. Secondly, we can engage in healthy conversations around the topic in our workplaces and beyond. And lastly, we can all focus on how we can best create and nurture professional relationships between diverse and non-diverse professionals that enable collective success. What will you do to bolster diversity and inclusion in your workplace? Sound off below in the comment section and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

About Lead Inclusively

Lead Inclusively is a technology-enabled Diversity and Inclusion Consulting firm devoted to developing leaders, teams, and organizations to leverage Diversity and Inclusion as an accelerator for business performance. Our collective experience has been that diversity only assures that we have a mix of different people in the workplace. Diverse people in a non-inclusive workplace may be retained for some period of time, but without inclusion, they will not thrive, advance, or become strong team collaborators. Our Unique Diversity and Inclusion solutions ensure impactful and sustained transformation in your Leadership Development, Culture,  Team, and Performance.

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Inclusion Virtual Coach App

Lead Inclusively to Join the Ranks of Microsoft for Startups

By | Company News, Diverity & Inclusion, High Tech | No Comments

San Diego diversity and inclusion startup, app developer, and consulting firm Lead Inclusively Inc. has joined the ranks of Microsoft for Startups. Microsoft’s global startup program is designed to help startups quickly build and market their solutions. Lead Inclusively, Inc. founded by CEO Denise Hummel is one of a handful of women-owned startups to be accepted, out of thousands of applicants. The program provides world-class resources to top-ranked ventures.

Based on Hummel’s decades of diversity and inclusion enterprise consulting, Lead Inclusively developed and launched its new Inclusion Virtual Coach® app which leverages machine learning, principles of neuroscience, AI and real-time nudge messaging to deliver next-gen, just in time, leadership training that enables real behavior change in the workplace.

“The Inclusion Virtual Coach desktop and mobile app is designed to produce new behaviors aligned with best practices from candidate screening and job interviewing to performance management and meetings,” said Hummel. “It’s such an honor to have our technology and expertise in enterprise diversity and inclusion validated in this manner.”

On accepting Lead Inclusively into Microsoft for Startups, Managing Director, Shaloo Garg had this to offer:

“At Microsoft for Startups, we’re focused on fostering diversity within startup ecosystems around the world. Startups like Lead Inclusively represent a step toward greater diversity and representation, and we’re excited to contribute support.”

The groundbreaking Inclusion Virtual Coach® app is an extension to Lead Inclusively’s already robust array of traditional diversity and inclusion consulting services. Through Microsoft for Startups, the company can access support from one of the world’s leaders in AI development to continue to enhance the app’s functionality as it learns how best to support and coach each user.

Inclusion Virtual Coach App TrainingLeadership Training Nudge Messaging

“I am so excited by the work Lead Inclusively is doing in the San Diego business community and throughout the nation. It is no surprise to me that the tech sector has caught on to their success and potential,” said Alex Balazs, Chief Architect at Intuit and a member of the Lead Inclusively Advisory Board.

Lead Inclusively’s Virtual Coach app seeks to fill a market need of $520 billion in losses resulting from employee disengagement and regrettable attrition.

Founder, Denise Hummel began her career as an employment discrimination attorney before becoming a diversity and inclusion consultant to some of the largest organizations in the world. She developed a successful methodology for teaching inclusion in the workplace but saw that while leaders found the material interesting, they struggled to make sustainable behavior changes. Hummel and her team researched the neuroscience of behavior change and leveraged technology through the Inclusion Virtual Coach app to seamlessly and permanently help leaders to embed inclusion in their teams.

For formal press inquiries regarding the Lead Inclusively or the Inclusion Virtual Coach App. Go to the formal press release or reach out directly to


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About Lead Inclusively Inc.

Lead Inclusively is the world leader in diversity and inclusion, offering consulting services as well as scalable technology to support and sustain enterprise clients that are transforming to an inclusive culture. The Inclusion Virtual Coach® App utilizes nudge messaging and AI to deliver state of the art microlearning, in real-time, focused on the leader’s leadership behavior, to foster inclusion, better teams, and improved performance. Learn more at

To learn more about Lead Inclusively, the Virtual Coach® App and its new partnership with Microsoft for Startups, please call Matt at 760-696-0179 or email at

About Microsoft for Startups

Microsoft for Startups takes a unique approach to connect qualified startups with new customers and channel partners. Microsoft has over 40,000 sales representatives and hundreds of thousands of partners whose goal is to drive the adoption of Microsoft cloud solutions into companies of all sizes and industries worldwide.

How Men and Women can Impact Gender Parity in the Workplace

By | Diverity & Inclusion, Gender Inclusion, Gender Parity, Human Resources, Inclusive Leadership | No Comments

As many of you may know, Mckinsey recently released its 2019 “Women in the Workplace” report. In what is widely considered the primary barometer for the state of gender equity in the workforce, the report highlights a continuation of many trends. Of them, the most notable is the continued stagnation of women in leadership positions starting at the manager level which in turn impacts workplace gender parity as a whole.

Despite making up almost 60% of bachelor’s degrees, and 50% of entry-level hires, women continue to be left behind when they reach the Manager level and beyond. While the presence of women in senior leadership has risen, the continued lack of progress in this area continues to be the single most important factor that continues to hinder workplace gender parity.

McKinsey Women in the Workplace

All this despite increased awareness, effort and even public outcry (e.g. the #Metoo movement) all calling for more progress. What needs to change is workplace culture. By building a culture of trust and collaboration we can slowly enable Men AND Women alike to build more equitable workplaces and slowly eradicate gender inequality. Here’s how:

Career Planning for Longterm Success – How it Affects Gender Parity

In a recent conversation with Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, discussed the fact that women are more likely to sacrifice their careers for their jobs. In other words, women can be more focused on the day-to-day responsibilities of their jobs while losing focus on what might benefit their long term careers. Women can also be more concerned with the negative impacts of their own career advancement on their current teams.

What women can do:

Women can start by not being apologetic for thinking about their long-term careers and what might benefit them as individuals. It is always okay to do a good job day-to-day with an end-goal of something bigger or unrelated to one’s current job! This change in mentality has also helped many professionals avoid the ‘indispensable in current role’ syndrome that plagues many.

What men can do: 

Understand and acknowledge that many women have the same career ambitions as many men. They simply go about their day-to-day business slightly differently. This knowledge can help companies re-evaluate the way individuals are considered for promotion.

Building and Leveraging Mentorship Relationships

47% of HR Leaders say that the biggest obstacle to advancing women is the fact that women are less likely to receive the necessary sponsorship. And the facts corroborate this. Women are statistically far less likely to receive a job recommendation or be put on a stretch assignment. These are both major factors that contribute to promotions and are influenced by the presence (or lack thereof) of an advocate in their professional life.

What women can do:

Women are often far less likely to advocate for and promote themselves than men. The average female professional will rate her own job performance significantly lower than the average male professional, despite both performing at the same level. Women should practice being more self-promotional and advocating for their work. It may feel awkward at first, but it is an effective and even necessary skill to cultivate.

What men can do:

Because women are often less self-promotional, less likely to ask, and less likely to receive the same mentorship and opportunities, take it upon yourself to offer sponsorship to female colleagues, and offer assistance in these areas. On the flip-side, also be careful not to succumb to the unconscious bias that perceives women who own their achievements as arrogant or not team players.

The role of collaboration, respect, and Inclusion in Achieving Gender Parity

Gender parity can only be achieved and sustained if it is built on the collective success of everyone. When inclusive gender parity is reached, workplaces thrive. Inclusion is the first step to bridging the gaps between men and women in the workplace. Both men and women can contribute to inclusion to catalyze the necessary trust, respect, and collaboration that will drive EVERYONE’s collective success.

Happy Workplaces - Lead Inclusively

What do you think?

How can men and women advance gender parity in a way that is fair and equitable? How can inclusion be the catalyst for fostering workplaces that promote belonging and how does that factor into gender parity? Dive deeper into the topic during this webinar or join the discussion during an upcoming virtual-live Q&A.

About Lead Inclusively

Lead Inclusively is a technology-enabled Diversity and Inclusion Consulting firm devoted to developing leaders, teams, and organizations to leverage Diversity and Inclusion as an accelerator for business performance. Our collective experience has been that diversity only assures that we have a mix of different people in the workplace. Diverse people in a non-inclusive workplace may be retained for some period of time, but without inclusion, they will not thrive, advance, or become strong team collaborators. Our Unique Diversity and Inclusion solutions ensure impactful and sustained transformation in your Leadership Development, Culture,  Team, and Performance.

Lead Inclusively Inc logo