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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bright Ideas 2017: Building Inclusive Business Cultures

Bright Ideas 2017: Building inclusive business cultures

For the fourth year, Cap Times reporters have asked several Madisonians to share "bright ideas" they have for the coming year. We will publish the 2017 edition of Bright Ideas throughout the next week.

My hope for 2017 is that as a community, we move toward having more authentic conversations with an openness to “hearing” the other side and sharing our own experiences, with the collective goal of moving toward greater inclusion and understanding.

We in the business community can no longer ignore race relations, gender equity, and sexual orientation among other individual differences. An inclusive culture where all members of the organization can thrive is a business imperative. An environment that enables each person to bring their best without fear of covering core aspects of their identity is critical to organizational performance. Research has proven this beyond doubt.

At the Wisconsin School of Business, we hold monthly lunch-and-learns to discuss our aspiration of a culture of collaboration and inclusion where individuals have permission to make mistakes rather than walking on eggshells trying to say the “right thing.” Relief from fear of judgment and having permission to learn together leads to greater understanding and inclusion. Training leaders to model behaviors congruent with this approach are the first step toward demonstrating a genuine commitment to inclusion and diversity. Once leadership begins to set the tone through active participation and setting inclusion as an organizational priority, others engage in behaviors to create a culture of openness that inspires courageous conversations.