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Inclusive Leadership Project

What is Inclusive Leadership?

You may find this short TEDx Talk helpful as an introduction to Inclusive Leadership (the video is around 9 mins long).

There is a growing body of research around Inclusive Leadership, and a number of models and definitions have been developed. At the heart of most definitions of Inclusive Leadership, and the research around it, sits this core central idea of the importance of individuals feeling able to contribute, feeling valued and respected, with a sense of belonging within the workplace. An inclusive culture, which begins at the top with our leaders, is the extent to which people feel valued and able to contribute irrespective of their background or personal characteristics.  A CIPD report on business case for inclusion found a very strong relationship between the perceived presence of Inclusive Leadership in organisations and employee satisfaction, self-motivation and performance.

According to the Centre for Creative Leadership, inclusive leaders are individuals who are aware of their own biases and actively seek out and consider different perspectives to inform their decision-making and collaborate more effectively with others.

Catalyst research on inclusion found that how managers behave links directly to employees’ experience of inclusion. Their model identifies the two key elements of inclusive leadership. Leading outward is what you do to ensure team members are treated fairly, empowered and able to flourish. Leading inward requires understanding who you are and how your own behaviours can create inclusion or exclusion for others.

An Inclusive Leader: is a role model exemplar of inclusive behaviour; listens to and seeks out the views of diverse people and takes account of these views, without bias, in the decisions they make; appreciates that a diverse group of people will generate more creative solutions to problems and encourages this; inspires people through a shared vision of future success and motivates them to deliver it; leverages difference for high performance and provides responsive excellence to customers’, clients’ and service users’ needs; provides positive feedback to boost people’s self-efficacy; puts effort into helping diverse people identify their talents and develop them for performance now and future advancement; communicates authentically and honestly in a way that inspires trust, loyalty and well-being. 

Source: inclusive-leadership_2016-driving-performance-through-diversity_tcm18-8811.pdf (

Objective of the project

Our aim is for all members of NDM to feel they are valued, respected, supported and to be happy where they work. The objective of this project is to implement activity to develop, enhance and support inclusive leadership practices within the Department, implementing workshops in January 2023 or senior staff, and seek to tackle issues that have been raised by our staff in the 2021 University Staff Experience Survey. We hope to gather data around changes to every day practices and see improvements through our surveys and the beginning of a cultural change by 2025 (in the biannual University Staff Experience Survey).

Project steps

  • The initial consultation phase brought together small groups of leaders from across the department to start to create a shared vision of an inclusive culture, and to identify any additional behaviors and skills that would support our leaders to further develop inclusive practice. This initial phase will maximise the opportunity for sustained change by engaging senior leaders in this process from the start.
  • The second phase is to consult with staff more widely about the project, and to add to our shared vision.
  • The third phase will bring those findings together to form the basis of forward action, and the development of an Inclusive Leadership Programme.
  • The fourth phase is focused on providing workshops for our leaders and senior managers to actively develop inclusive, transparent and supportive practice.

Nov 21 -Dec 21

Initial Scoping

•Scope current activity within the University
•Initial information gathering, including NDM survey data
•Research training providers
•Develop proposal for project
•Funding application

Dec 21 - May 22

Phase 1

•Project plan discussions with training provider.
•Arrange contract.
•Initial consultancy sessions with senior leaders.
•Feedback from sessions and opportunity to contribute views after reflection.

May 22 - July 22

Phase 2

•Report and recommendations by AdvanceHE.
•Wider consultation on the programme.

August 22 - September 22

Phase 3

•Analysis of feedback.
•Report on wider consultation.
•Development of activity to be undertaken within NDM, based on the findings of the consultancy sessions, best practice evidence and recommendations by Advance HE.

September 22 - January 23

Phase 4

•Training workshops for leaders and senior managers.
•Training feedback on the workshops and assessment of intended changes to practice.
•Seeking recommendations from AdvanceHE on how to support start to effectively embed Inclusive Leadership in practice.

Pilot Study

This project is a pilot study for the University, and as such we have managed to secure part of the funding for the consultancy sessions and workshops through the Equality and Diversity Unit (EDU). The remaining funding for the project is being provided by NDM.

In Partnership with Advance HE

We are working with AdvanceHE, the national body for good practice in higher education, in the development and implementation of this project. The consultation discussions were be led by Trudy Coe, an Associate of Advance HE. Trudy was formerly Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Oxford, and now delivers workshops to senior leadership teams in universities across the UK. The workshops will be run by Hannah Fromageau SFHEA, a Senior Consultant in Leadership and Organisational Development at Advance HE. 

Senior Staff Consultancy Sessions

We approached a cross-section of senior staff from across different units/institutes/centers of NDM, from academic and research staff as well as professional staff, to join an initial consultation session, with care being taken to invite a diverse selection of people. An initial 45 individuals were invited to participate, and 18 individuals volunteered to take part. 3 sessions were held; on the 4th, 10th and 11th of May 2022, each with 6 individuals taking part. The consultancy sessions were led by Trudy Coe, an Associate of Advance HE, to gather views around what Inclusive Leadership should look like within NDM. These initial discussions were to start to create a shared vision of an inclusive culture, and to identify any additional behaviors and skills that would support our leaders to further develop inclusive practice.


The University has developed a Leadership Framework, which shares the skills and behaviours that many colleagues across Oxford say are of value here and has been developed with input from across the University. People and Organisational Development (POD) have developed a new set of learning exercises for leaders and managers to support their development planning and bring the leadership framework to life. To help identify priority areas for development download the diagnostic tool and work your way through these interactive self-access learning materials click here. This framework has been shared with AdvanceHE, and will inform the design of the workshops within NDM.

The University has developed a course for any leader or manager who wishes to learn more about Inclusive Leadership and how to develop inclusivity in their day-to-day practices. Access is through the CoSy system by selecting the course on POD’s course listing page:

All Staff Consultation

AdvanceHE provided a report of the main findings from the initial consultation sessions with the small groups of senior leaders within NDM and provided some initial recommendations. Staff were e-mailed in June 2022, inviting them to view a summary of the findings, as well as the draft learning outcomes of the planned workshops, and were given the opportunity to provide anonymous feedback about the project via an on-line form. The consultation closed on 29th July 2022. The comments provided within the senior staff sessions and the feedback gathered through the open consultation is shaping the development of the workshops being designed by AdvanceHE and supportive activity across NDM.

Please click on the link below to see a summary of the consultation findings. 

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