Inclusive Management: The keys to an engaged team


Is your management inclusive? Given the figures for inclusion in business in France, the answer is not obvious. According to a recent study, 74% of employees say they have already witnessed discrimination. And only 21% of managers would feel sufficiently supported to remedy it. Let’s ask ourselves what an inclusive manager really is and how to get started…

  • Inclusion in business: what are we talking about?
  • What is the role of the manager in an inclusion process?
  • What is the point of adopting inclusive management?
  • How do you recognize a manager who is not very or not inclusive?
  • What skills to be an inclusive manager?
  • Can you be an inclusive manager when you are not pushed by the company?
  • Inclusive management: where to start to take action?

Inclusion in business: what are we talking about?

Since the health crisis, this is an emerging subject in organizations, an expectation of employees, even a requirement of certain candidates. Aiming for inclusion means of course fighting against all forms of discrimination under article L.1132-1 of the Labor Code. On a daily basis, it means leading a team with different profiles. And, even more, it means instilling a new dynamic among its employees.

“Inclusive management starts from the postulate that differences are an asset for the company ,” summarizes Annette Chazoule, manager of the Management and Change Offer at Cegos. It fights against discrimination in the spirit of the law. But it also bets on collective intelligence in the service of the quality of life at work, the agility of the organization and ultimately, its performance. »

It is also a real challenge, the scale of which appears in the latest Cegos Barometer dedicated to diversity and inclusion in organizations, published in June 2022 ( The Skills Challenges of a Cultural Transformation ).

Among the lessons of the study:

  • 54% of employees in France say they have already been victims of at least one form of discrimination.
  • Among the most frequently encountered forms of discrimination, the French cite age (32%), union activities (22%), state of health (20%) and gender (18%).
  • Only 31% of employees point to the commitment of the management team to bring these values ​​of inclusion to the highest level of the company...

What is the role of the manager in an inclusion process?

Faced with such a challenge, the role of the manager is multiple. Already, he often participates in recruitment. He also suggests or supports employee promotions. And in each circumstance, he will have to combat no less than 24 discrimination criteria recalled by the association À Compétences evenes . “  In direct contact with his teams, the n+1 is a key player,” insists Annette Chazoule. He can start with an initial self-diagnosis and ask himself the right questions. We often recruit or favor profiles that resemble us. A manager can therefore wonder if his team lacks diversity. »

38% of employees in France describe their direct manager as a strong ally in the face of these issues . But its role cannot be limited to human resources. “He plays an essential role in leading his team on a daily basis. In this respect, we can compare the inclusive manager to an orchestra conductor who will be able to integrate various instruments to give a harmonious meaning to the whole . He will set the tone and instill a general policy that will benefit everyone. »

What is the point of adopting inclusive management?

There are many reasons to promote inclusive management. For 56% of employees surveyed, diversity contributes to the overall performance of the organization. The Equal Competence association, based on several studies, estimates that certain companies can observe up to 30% additional turnover per employee. “According to various studies, we estimate on average an impact on overall turnover of around 15 % ,” adds Annette Chazoule. The benefits of inclusion are not necessarily quantifiable, but they will be very real and have an impact on the quality of life at work. »

In terms of human resources, inclusive management contributes to talent retention , but also to the overall attractiveness of the organization and its employer brand. In France, 77% of employees say that taking inclusion issues into account would be an “important” criterion for choosing a new employer. Moreover, inclusion also benefits the manager himself . He also remains an employee, often proud to manage his teams according to his values ​​or new societal expectations...

How do you recognize a manager who is not very or not inclusive?

Proof that progress remains to be made, many of us have undoubtedly already witnessed similar situations:

  • A manager who makes - or lets people make - sexist, homophobic, fatphobic, age-related jokes, etc.
  • A manager who organizes a meeting that risks overflowing after 6 p.m.
  • During a mission to a client, send a delegation where all the employees are somewhat similar (age, gender, appearance, etc.)
  • During a presentation, a manager who monopolizes the floor
  • A manager hostile to a transversal work organization

In France, 54% of employees say they have already been victims of at least one form of discrimination. However, these acts would be perpetrated first by colleagues then by direct managers.

“Conversely , certain deliberately inclusive postures will have a lasting and positive impression on the minds of employees or customers,” observes Annette Chazoule. Imagine, for example, a delegation mission with high added value, where all the employees clearly do not come out of the same mold, with different genders, ages, origins, training or relationship to disability for example. Imagine an interlocutor who distributes the word among everyone. Inclusivity surprises and is remembered . »

Inclusive management: where to start to take action?

But to achieve this, you still need to adopt some good practices and know which ones. “To get started, I often recommend training on cognitive biases and stereotypes ,” comments Annette Chazoule. No one is immune to prejudice. It is healthy to learn to think against yourself and get out of your comfort zone. » Ideally, however, you should not act alone and be accompanied by your management. “To go further, we could imagine training courses with awareness of intergenerational management, parity, diversity . »

But our expert also invites you to review your interpersonal skills . “For this, so-called soft skills training, such as Process Com , to get to know others better, or NVC (non-violent communication), to communicate better, are very relevant. They allow us to better understand others and sometimes to identify and overcome resistance. » Because ultimately, isn't inclusive management also taking into account each individuality?

What skills to be an inclusive manager?

It remains to be seen whether all managers can become inclusive. On paper, any n+1 can make progress on the issue, provided they display a few necessary predispositions. “  Inclusion does not happen without effort , ” recognizes Annette Chazoule. It already requires a lot of humility and the ability to question oneself . You have to be ready to learn. And then, on the ground, this requires commitment and constant vigilance. »

Among the expected postures and soft skills we can cite:

  • Have enough humility, even ask for help,
  • Knowing how to look and listen to what is happening around you,
  • Have the courage not to tolerate any deviant comments or behavior,
  • Support your teams in coaching mode,
  • Encourage collective intelligence,
  • Organize awareness actions or campaigns…

Can you be an inclusive manager when you are not pushed by the company?

It is better, as we will have understood, to be supported. However, to date, according to the Cegos study, only 21% of French managers (compared to 34% of the international panel) believe that their organization helps them manage sensitive situations linked to diversity and inclusion. “The room for progress is therefore real,” recognizes Annette Chazoule. However, even without encouragement, you have to get started, question yourself, and manage according to your personal convictions . Hoping, through example and figures, to instill good practices, upwards and downwards..."

It will undoubtedly take longer, but not without benefit. Above all, will organizations ultimately have a choice? “In a context of the war for talent, this is an increasingly less negotiable issue ,” warns our expert. When they arrive, there are high expectations from new employees, particularly among the 18-30 year old age group. The company must reflect current society. If it does not do this, it puts itself out of step with what people experience and therefore in danger of attracting talent and retaining them. »