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15 Actionable Strategies to Embrace Inclusive Leadership

There is no shortage of organizations in St. Louis working hard every day to mitigate the results of inequitable policies and practices that have widened the racial, generational and gender wealth gap—and St. Louis desperately needs these efforts; however, without strategies to lift up and embrace the voices, perspectives and lived experiences of marginalized people, our progress will be stagnant.

The Inclusive Growth in St. Louis event series, hosted by the Social Policy Institute and the Center for Inclusive Growth and powered by a local advisory committee, met on September 23, 2021 to discuss actionable steps organizations from all sectors can take to embrace inclusive leadership. Below are 15 strategies to proactively support and amplify diverse voices and perspectives as discussed by the speakers at the event.   

  1. Understand that diversity includes, and is not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, and age, as well as other factors, that influence how someone might experience the world and how they show up to work.
  2. Make inclusion efforts explicit and inherent in every aspect of an institution’s culture, mission, values and strategy execution.
  3. Model an authentic desire for inclusion among leadership by being present at and leading diversity, equity and inclusion discussions and trainings.
  4. Launch a staff diversity committee that brings important discussions forward for the organization and also provides leadership and decision-making opportunities for staff who may not be in managerial positions.
  5. Identify and support the efforts and skills of natural leaders who are already organizing or leading in your organization or community.
  6. Ask for what you need to be successful as a community member, board member or staff person; facilitate inclusion at an organization by supporting unique and createive leadership.
  7. Demonstrate transparency about your journey to be inclusive and anti-racist as an organization (and where you are working to improve).
  8. Encourage people to show up as their authentic self by implementing organization-wide use of pronouns.
  9. Invest in funding for new positions, staff training in diversity, equity and inclusion, and community engagement.
  10. Identify personal biases and work to build awareness around these blind-spots.
  11. Involve community members at the start and throughout a project, not at the end.
  12. Compensate community members for their engagement and partnership and ensure accessibility by offering child care or transportation, for example.
  13. Follow through and follow up on promises to and engagement with community members by being transparent about how you will or will not use community feedback. Additionally, provide attribution for ideas generated.
  14. Listen to and trust the expertise of those with lived experiences different than your own.
  15. Measure outcomes of equity to ensure activities and policies support inclusion.
  16. Shift accountability power from the funder to community and remove unnecessary metrics for funding evaluation and grant reports.

These strategies were discussed by the following speakers:

  • Kiesha Davis, director of partnership and capacity building, Deaconess Foundation
  • Tiffany Day, director, Whole Family Approach Innovations, Community Action Partnerships
  • April Ford Griffin, executive director, Affordable Housing Commission, City of St. Louis
  • Sherita Haigler, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, United Way
  • LaShana Lewis, founder and CEO, L. M. Lewis Consulting
  • Leah Moser, director of planning and partnerships, Generate Health STL
  • Claire Rippel, director, Neighborhood Leadership Academy Community Development Specialist, UMSL

Learn more by watching the event recording and tell us which strategy you’re applying by leaving a comment.

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