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Inclusive leadership

Inclusive leadership for the ethical management of cultural diversity, by Laurence Romani and Charlotte Holgersson This chapter is published in the Research handbook of global leadership: making a difference, edited by L. Zander

In today’s increasingly global world, the management of differences is becoming a part of the activities of managers as well as global leaders. We argue that, despite leaders’ best intentions, the consideration of these differences and the way in which they are handled may be unethical. We advance that inclusive leadership could be a valid framework to address cultural diversity differences in an ethical way. This chapter is concerned with the concept and practice of inclusive leadership and its possible contribution to the management of cultural diversity in organizations. We first present the ethical challenges that organizations face when leading cultural differences. By examining the fundaments of what is commonly called ‘the business case’ for diversity, we underline its ethical limitations. We then underscore the ethical problems that are linked to the ways in which cultural differences are frequently seen and defined. Adopting a relational perspective on leadership, we introduce the concept of inclusive leadership. Building upon the existing literature on diversity and cross-cultural management, we proceed to propose a three-step model for inclusive leadership on an interpersonal level. Our ambition is to increase the awareness for global leaders of the ethical components of leading cultural diversity.

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