Inclusive Leadership: Respecting the Many Facets of Self-Identification

While Shakespeare’s famous line, “What’s in a name?” may suggest names are inconsequential, the reality is quite the opposite, especially when it comes to inclusive leadership. Inclusion should not be reduced to a mere buzzword. Instead, it should represent a commitment to fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. This commitment begins with the fundamental act of respecting the many facets of self-identification, including people’s names, pronouns, and other key elements of their identity.

The Power of Names

Names carry significant weight — they are an integral part of our identities. As leaders, it’s essential to invest time in learning the correct pronunciation of each team member’s name. This seemingly simple act demonstrates respect for their culture and individuality, thereby fostering a sense of belonging.

The Importance of Pronouns

In today’s diverse workplaces, acknowledging everyone’s pronouns is crucial. This acknowledgement is not just a sign of respect, but also a meaningful step toward creating an inclusive environment.

Honouring Self-Identification

Self-identification refers to how individuals identify their gender, race, or any other aspect of their identity. Respecting self-identification involves acknowledging and honouring these identities without making assumptions or judgments. For instance, while Statistics Canada refers to visible minorities as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour,” many individuals prefer “People of Colour” (POC) or People of the Global Majority (PGM). As leaders, it’s important to understand and use the terms that resonate most with those we interact with.

Inclusive Leadership Course

To further explore the nuances of inclusive leadership, we have designed a comprehensive course, available now as a facilitated webinar and later this year as an online asynchronous course. This course offers practical strategies for promoting inclusion, from fostering open dialogue to implementing inclusive policies. By participating in this course, leaders can equip themselves with the tools necessary to cultivate a truly inclusive environment.

Get in touch with Lena at to discuss your workplace learning needs on inclusion.

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