Workplace dynamics can be a challenge at the best of times, whether by chance or by design. 

While we strive to feel included in ourselves, do we equally apply ourselves to the inclusion of others? By rallying behind our counterparts, we strengthen rapport and with it, the confidence to make a valuable contribution to the team.

Cynthia Marshall has served as Dallas Mavericks Chief Executive Officer since 2018 after the team’s operations faced national media scrutiny for a toxic work environment. A heavy-hitter in the realm of leadership, diversity, and inclusion, Marshall’s resume boasts more accolades than many may hope to accrue in a lifetime. She was awarded the Women of Power Legacy Award by Black Enterprise, the ATHENA® Leadership Program Award, named one of Adweek’s 30 Most Powerful Women in Sports, and one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Business by The Network Journal. 

On the matter of workplace inclusion and diversity, Marshall shares: “it’s about establishing a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion…you improve the quality of your decision-making, you gain more customer insight. Your employees are more motivated when they feel a sense of belonging. It really helps you with your global brand.” 

As Marshall points out, there is a tangible, measurable, and profitable benefit to reforming workplace cultures, however, the world as a whole has a long way to go in including diversity and inclusion as guiding company principles. 

Research by Robert Walters, one of the world’s leading global specialist professional recruitment consultancies shows a recurring pattern of low self-esteem affecting women throughout their careers. 22% of women – vs only 13% of men – feel that a lack of self-esteem is one of the main barriers to their progression, while men are 10% more likely than women to leave a job that offers no clear opportunity for progression. 

Being so deeply ingrained in the workplace, it’s up to all of us to make a stand, and who better to take up the fight than women in leadership?  

Kortney Murray is the Founder and CEO of Coastal Kapital, a financial services company in Florida, whose mission is to guide others through the choppy waters of business financing. 

According to Murray, there is more to be done than addressing merely the obvious: “We must become aware of unconscious bias in an effort to make real change. The only way to do this is by hearing the voice of every person on the team. The only way that can happen, is if everyone feels safe to express themselves.” 

It’s inescapable that conversations of this depth will bridge the boundaries between personal and professional, laying the foundations for a more inclusive environment. Grounded in the first-hand needs of your team, proactive measures of improvement become far more effective. 

As a leader, Barbie Layton has made it her prerogative to deliberately remove the distinction between person and employee, by treating people like people, based on who they are vs what they do. 

Barbie, TV Host of You Are Amazing on The Best You TV, co-founder of The Infinity Life, Author, Speaker, and Amethyst Chamber energy healing consultant is a firm believer in the Law Of Attraction. She promotes being the “change that you want to see in all areas of your life, career included. It begins with all of us being our authentic selves. We can’t be confident if we are literally pretending to be someone else.” Having lived on three continents, traveled to over thirty countries, and all over the United States she has found that travel is a great equalizer. Travel amplifies the importance of having our needs met, as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests.  Barbie goes on to share that to create a global community where all voices are heard, respected and equal it is essential that the structure of that growth is grown in soil where authenticity is celebrated. 

Indeed, the world is rife with all manner of falsities, often based on nothing more than our warped perception of what others see in us or expect of us. The very fact that we are employed based on a combination of role-specific merits, coupled with admirable character traits, should instill enough self-belief in our abilities, skills, and experience for us to charge forward with a healthy dose of gusto. 

Generating real confidence begins with an understanding of your unique value: “our greatest gift is our individuality, and if we can recognize that, we can step into a bigger version of ourselves… then there is no scarcity and everyone is winning”, says Barbie.  

From there, the task of shifting workplace culture to one of inclusion and diversity becomes less elusive. Understanding our own values can guide us in championing our peers, creating a nurturing, supportive environment where everyone feels seen and heard. As Cynthia Marshall says of her own success, it was through the investment that others made in her, that she was able to overcome her own challenges. As a result, she has made it her life mission to provide others with that same support. If we can all take a page from her book, we may realize that the power to create the change we seek, lies within all of us. 

Words Shannon Rose