Inclusive Leaders Transform Diversity into Shared Strength

Extensive research makes clear that diverse teams drive better decisions and a stronger bottom line. But there is an ART to transforming people of varied skills, genders, cultures, races and perspectives into cohesive teams. “Too often, we attempt to address diversity and inclusion as a science driven by numbers,” says Yum! Brands Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, James Fripp. “But we also have to address the human fears, obstacles and apprehensions.” Learn more with Fripp and other Yum! Brand C-Suite executives during WFF’s virtual Legacy Series Workshops throughout September.
 
Inclusive Leaders Transform Diversity into Shared Strength
The old expression, “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” brings to mind work groups comprised of members with very similar backgrounds and experiences. They may easily agree, but also draw inspiration from the same set of limited experiences. By contrast, teams with members from varied social and cultural backgrounds widen the range of idea-generating perspectives.
 
“The numbers around diversity, equity and inclusion matter,” says Yum! Brands Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, James Fripp. “But building workplaces of belonging and inclusion is also personal. We support and SPONSOR people who we know and TRUST.”
 
Fripp leads Yum’s global inclusive leadership platform aimed at growing a culture of inclusion among its multinational brands and making the organization as diverse as its customer base, especially in mid-level management through the C-Suite. He will lead a virtual workshop on Inclusive Leadership September 23, 10 a.m.-Noon CT as part of the new WFF Legacy Series.
 
WFF has teamed up with partner company CEOs, Presidents and senior leaders giving back and helping women accelerate career progress by sharing their expertise through new virtual workshops for emerging leaders to seasoned executives.  
 
Rethinking ‘fit’ in recruitment and advancement
The concept of how well a candidate will “fit” into an organization has sometimes shut women and other under-represented groups out of the hiring and advancement process because they do not reflect those already in power. But insights from Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences suggest reimagining fit in a new way — like a jigsaw puzzle.
 
Rather than recruiting, hiring and promoting people who are similar to existing team members, they advocate searching for people like unique puzzle pieces that can contribute something you would otherwise be missing. From there, they address how to complete the puzzle. That includes:
 
Thinking about what constitutes diversity. It may mean gender, race and ethnicity. It can also mean national origin, physical and cognitive abilities, culture, functional background and industry experience. A diverse team provides access to perspectives that can optimize potential and promote better understanding of and connection to current and future customers. 
 
Building in support. As you build a pipeline of diverse people joining and rising in the organization, create internal communities that help them flourish. By helping team members connect with others who have blazed a similar path, you can build belonging into their experiences.  
 
Connecting people with people. Fripp emphasizes building relationships that cultivate trust and connection. Because, he says, “When it comes down to it, if the trust is not there, the person will never be more than an acquaintance.” He shares a relationship-building success story launched by the KFC global business team where participants in a full day diversity training session capped the event with dinner in a coworker’s home. “Feedback was phenomenal,” he said. “The experience transformed work relationships into authentic, holistic relationships. We got to see each other differently.”
 
Recognizing your own biases. Tuning into your own conscious and unconscious biases can help you act more intentionally when considering candidates for hire and promotion. Often, it is through our own narrow perspective that we judge a job candidate more than the actual qualifications needed for a position and how well she meets them.
 
Meeting people where they are. Fripp finds one way to draw leaders into a more inclusive leadership approach is to listen for the questions and concerns not verbalized. “The more I can anticipate some of those fears and call them out, from a “we” perspective, the more people start to share what is really on their hearts and minds.” Doing so helps engage colleagues in real commitment to inclusive leadership, rather than compliance, Fripp says. “I don’t want to make inclusive leadership mandatory — I want people to ask for it.”
 
“One key to inclusive workplaces is making sure our minds are open to what diversity really looks like and what belonging means to each person,” Fripp says. “If we want to remain relevant, innovative and successful, we have to keep opening ourselves to new perspectives.”
 
Legacy Series brings leaders to your laptop
Registration is open for Fripp’s workshop on Inclusive Leadership and the full Legacy Series. Registration for any workshop includes complimentary one-year WFF membership with access to WFF Connect, a new digital platform exclusively available to WFF members offering virtual content and events, leadership development and networking resources. 
 
Other Legacy Series speakers include:
 
  • Retired Yum! Brands CEO Greg Creed reveals his leadership philosophy of Smart, Heart and Courage (September 2, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT) and the Top Ten Leadership Lessons that enabled him to drive extraordinary business results (September 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT).
 
  • Yum! Brands CEO David Gibbs and Chief Transformation and People Officer Tracy Skeans share evolving, crisis-driven learnings and the strategic decision making guiding the company through unprecedented global challenges in their moderated conversation on Leadership in a Crisis (September 22, 2-4 p.m. CT).

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