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Stephen Bailey, founder and CEO of leadership training business ExecOnline, discusses how fostering a truly diverse and inclusive workplace requires certain skills and development. — ExecOnline

For a business to scale, grow and succeed, it needs to develop fresh, diverse talent and build a strong leadership pipeline. The problem is, many businesses don't know where to begin.

Stephen Bailey, founder and CEO of ExecOnline, wanted to solve this problem. His organization partners with elite business schools to deliver business learning experiences that combine with on-campus study and role-based learning to create the next generation of successful leaders.

Bailey sees it as his responsibility to help companies develop diverse and inclusive succession plans and leadership pipelines. Through ExecOnline's webinars, he helps leaders see how they can use their positions to create change both within their own companies and their local communities.

“I want to help corporate leaders understand the importance of building truly diverse succession plans, so all of tomorrow’s leaders — from every race, demographic and gender — feel empowered to rise up and take charge,” Bailey said. “If professionals are not empowered, even informally, to keep rising through the ranks, they end up squeezed out and left behind.”

Organizations need to have a diverse executive team in order to truly represent different perspectives and ensure that employees, clients and partners feel welcomed, accepted and heard.

Stephen Bailey, founder and CEO, ExecOnline

Developing diversity and equality in companies requires an honest look inward

As the only Black CEO in the B2B online leadership development space, Bailey knows that there is no simple fix and singular solution to overcoming systemic racism. The solution doesn't come in hiring more diverse candidates, but rather in becoming aware of the systems that oppress minority groups.

“When it comes to corporate culture and addressing and fixing racism in the workplace, many of our global leaders are ill-equipped to explore how bias, both conscious and unconscious, impacts the inclusiveness of their organizations” he told CO—.

[Read: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion Boosts Business and Community Connection]

Bailey believes leadership teams face some significant challenges right now when it comes to creating an inclusive workplace. First, managers don’t always have the skills needed to guide their teams during troubling times, and they must develop those skills if they hope to be effective leaders. Leaders may also struggle to recognize the need to build or strengthen an inclusive foundation in their organizations to foster greater diversity.

To meet these challenges, Bailey believes leaders must deeply understand the need for “development equity.” That’s why ExecOnline helps businesses deliver leadership and business skills to employees, while addressing the foundational needs of their systems. Bailey’s firm also prioritizes the lack of development equity that is stopping companies from building a well-rounded executive team.

“Organizations need to have a diverse executive team in order to truly represent different perspectives and ensure that employees, clients and partners feel welcomed, accepted and heard,” Bailey said. “Diversity flounders without adequate support, however, so organizations must do some real soul-searching — uncovering aspects of the aforementioned systemic racism like unconscious biases to address any issues in their culture, talent acquisition and retention and succession processes.” Follow ExecOnline on Instagram!

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