Creating inclusive teams is essential not just for improving potential and productivity but also for forming innovative, resilient teams capable of adapting to diverse markets and ideas. This process demands intentional leadership committed to diversity, psychological safety, bias awareness, and trust. Authenticity is key; leaders must be vulnerable and open, encouraging dialogue to value diverse perspectives. Continuous growth in inclusivity involves embracing curiosity, engaging in both expert-led and participatory learning, and gradually implementing new, inclusive practices, like using gender-neutral language. Ultimately, fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and can thrive transcends mere compliance, enriching the broader community and embodying a true privilege of leadership.

    Fostering inclusive teams is a hot topic. Not surprisingly, given report after report detailing the staggering cost of lost potential and productivity related to exclusionary workplaces. Although a side effect of fostering and creating inclusive environments is often stronger, more innovative, and resilient teams who can better adapt to diverse customers, markets, and ideas, I have always looked at it as the privilege of being able to help create environments where people feel safe, valued, respected, and can thrive. The impact on potential and productivity is an added benefit.



    Inclusive leadership takes intentionality. Groups and cultures will not become more inclusive on their own. This requires leaders to commit to and actively champion inclusion of diversity, psychological safety, awareness and reduction of biases, and trust within the team.



    Authenticity is a critical component of inclusive leadership. If it is seen as ticking a box or merely including a perfunctory Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion statement in an annual report, then the initiatives will not succeed. This means being courageous and showing vulnerability and humility. I encourage you to try acknowledging your own limitations to foster trust and psychological safety within the group and encouraging open dialogue and collaborations to ensure diverse perspectives are heard and valued. It is understanding that not everyone is at the same place and is coming from different backgrounds. Some people will naturally feel safe to be expressive, while others will need more encouragement. As leaders, we also need to be navigating that balance of when to be transparent and vulnerable and when to shelter the team.


    Continuous growth

    Pragmatically, nobody does all the things perfectly all the time, so the goal is growth over time and continued expansion of ways that one is inclusive. Acceptance of having done the best you could with what you had as you continue to try to be better. Embodying curiosity and open-mindedness by actively seeking out and listening to different perspectives reinforces the commitment and importance of inclusivity. Intentionally bringing others along in the learning journey. I personally find balancing trainer-led awareness training with participatory co-creation sessions helpful. Trainer-led sessions can work well when the topic is suitable for experts to convey best practices and consideration, while participatory co-creation sessions leverage everyone’s experience and perspective.


    Understand that progress is gradual

    As with any change, progress is gradual. Habits can be hard to break so execution is a practice. Some facets of inclusivity are better suited than others for processes and systems. For example, adding accessibility considerations into presentation and documentation templates facilitates use of more inclusive work products.  However, some things are just a matter of practice. When implementing new habits, catching yourself when you slip, acknowledging it, and continuing to try to be better. Giving others and yourself grace when practicing new behaviours is paramount. For example, I personally find gendered language so ingrained when addressing groups, it’s something I intentionally work on. Instead of the term “guys”, my favourite gender neutral term is “y’all”. Although, given how informal it is, if I need to be more formal, I will use “team”.


    At the end of the day, it's not merely about ticking a box or articulating an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion statement in an annual report; it’s about being able to create environments where people feel valued, respected, and can thrive. The impact of that leadership radiates out and contributes to the betterment and vibrancy of the communities we touch; and that is a wonderful privilege.


    About the Author

    Myriam Davidson


    An innovation strategist, Myriam Davidson specializes in intellectual property strategy, with a focus on in information management to fully utilize information sources to advance business objectives, drive innovation, identify market opportunities, and minimize risk. Starting with the end in mind, Myriam aligns developing a company’s IP strategy in service of the business strategy setting the company up on a path for continued growth and success. Myriam’s distinctive skills led to her ranking on the IAM Strategy 300 global list of Leading IP Strategists, an annual guide of individuals who have demonstrated the ability to deliver a world-class IP value creation service offering.

    Myriam is a passionate champion for equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, leading the charge as the chair of Stratford's internal EDIB committee. Her commitment to fostering an inclusive environment is evident through her proactive advocacy and leadership within the organization.


    This post is the first in our ongoing EDIB Perspectives series offering insights and reflections on equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) topics from a business perspective, brought to you by leaders and colleagues at Stratford. Through this series, we aim to share experiences, challenges, and successes in fostering an inclusive corporate culture. 

    With a more personal tone, the goal of these posts is to offer diverse perspectives on how individuals at Stratford authentically live and embody the principles of EDIB in their daily lives and work.