#WomenExcel, Impact

It was in 1975, during the International Women’s Year, that the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. It started as an occasion dedicated to looking back and reflecting on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. A terrific vision!

Sadly, today, in 2015, the potential of women around the globe mostly remains untapped, and there are not many outstanding opportunities awaiting them either. Don’t get me wrong. I think we have made tremendous progress, but there’s so much more we can do to ensure that women and men have equal opportunities in the workplace.

To expedite matters, I recommend celebrating “International Wake Up, Don’t Lose Your Talent Year” — continuing the celebration and focus all year long!

In preparation for the celebration, answer the following three questions:

1.   Who has helped you get ahead?
2.   Who would say the same about you — that you helped them advance?
3.   Do those people look like you?

As part of celebrating, commit to the following three actions:

1.    I will be an intentional leader.

Intentionality is a term echoed by CEOs and leaders of successful and inclusive companies to indicate the focus, attention and courageous acts required by leaders to advance diversity and inclusion. Intentional leaders are those who deliberately choose to be at the forefront of change and inspire others.

2.   I will make my team members feel included.

Catalyst research says that when women and men feel included, they are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, innovate and suggest new ideas and ways to get work done. Inclusion happens when people’s needs for individuality (Uniqueness) and connection (Belongingness) are met. Inclusion happens when YOU value both the differences and the commonalities of others.

  • Uniqueness: Standing out from the crowd (coworkers, colleagues, team members, peers) and being and feeling recognized for what’s distinct about you.
  • Belongingness: Being and feeling accepted as part of the crowd, regardless of your differences or similarities with others.

3.   I will use the Catalyst EACH attributes (Empowerment, Accountability, Courage, and Humility) to be an inclusive leader.

    • Empowerment: Enabling your direct reports to develop and excel.
    • Accountability: Demonstrating confidence in your direct reports, and holding them responsible for performance and tasks they can control.
    • Courage: Setting personal interest aside to get the job done, personal risk-taking, including taking one for the team as a leader.
    • Humility: Admitting mistakes, learning from different points of view, seeking contributions of others as a leader.

When you are an intentional and inclusive leader, you develop a diverse team and foster an inclusive workplace. So disrupt your default, say no to the status quo, and be an intentional and inclusive leader. We all know what happens when you have a talented team in an inclusive workplace — the celebration continues all year long!

So, who has helped you get ahead? And who is on your list of the women you’ve mentored or sponsored? Share your answers in the comment section, and forward this blog post to recognize those you’ve named! I’m looking forward to receiving your questions and thoughts on inclusive leadership. Also, be sure to use the #WomenExcel hashtag when you share this post on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.


Deepali_Bagati_BW_89x100Dr. Bagati is the Vice President of the Catalyst Inclusive Leadership Initiative, leading curriculum development to transform diversity research, expertise, and advocacy into skill-building leadership programs. Previously, she led the growth and expansion of Catalyst India. Dr. Bagati has also led research on global workplace challenges and solutions, and frequently speaks on topics such as women in leadership, organizational change, and global diversity and inclusion strategies.
Twitter: @dbagati
LinkedIn: Deepali Bagati
Twitter: @CatalystInc
LinkedIn: Catalyst Inc.

Originally published Mar 1, 2015

Author: Deepali Bagati