Leading inclusively

Inclusion is central to unleashing the true potential of diversity - be it visible, like gender, race, ethnicity, and age, or invisible, like social background, education and sexual orientation. While creating an inclusive culture is easier said than done, many organizations are making visible and sustainable progress in diversity and inclusion.

The value of cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce in organizations has been proven many times over. However, it isn’t only about the business case. It is also about doing the right thing.

IMD MBA session on diversity and inclusion

We believe that a sense of shared responsibility along with a genuine commitment to long-term, meaningful action is vitally important if society is to confront and resolve issues that continue to affect in disproportionate ways the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us. We believe we all have a role to play to ensure more equality and fairness.

In our work with more than 11,000 senior executives each year,  we actively challenge the biases – conscious or subconscious – that we encounter. We encourage business leaders to consider the impacts of their decisions, and encourage them to reduce deeply ingrained inequalities and contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable future.

Most importantly, we ask leaders and organizations this fundamental question: What do you stand for?

In the past, leaders worked in mostly homogenous teams, operating from a single, shared perspective, applying a Western lens very often. In today’s globalized world, many organizations and businesses face a complex reality: a changing workplace, digital exposure, an intensified war of talents, reputational management and a consumer expectation of them to take a stand and act. To continue to grow, organizations must visibly mirror their stakeholders, partners and clients, and represent their expectations.

Leaders need – more than ever – to be able to recognize, attract, develop and retain all talents, model inclusive leadership in all circumstances, and recognize and address micro-inequities in order to cultivate high-performing teams to promote business growth, for adaptivity in turbulent times, and to strive for a more diverse, inclusive and fair future.

Today, knowing how to grow diversity and implement inclusive leadership has become a ‘must have’ management skill.

Knowing how to translate good intentions into real and sustained behavioural change is the largest hurdle most of our clients currently face

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Companies with women in senior managerial roles tend to have better returns on equity and assets... There is a clear business case for hiring and promoting women for more senior roles.
Ginka Toegel
Professor of Leadership

How IMD can help you

We can influence current and future leaders to  help their organizations work toward a more diverse, inclusive and fair future.

IMD expertise

Are you at the beginning of your EI&D journey?

If you are at the beginning of your equity, inclusion and diversity journey, you might ask yourself: What do we want diversity for? How can we select areas of focus? How can we design an impactful plan with measurable and tangible steps? How can we define and explain inclusion?

Have you been working on EI&D for some and have stalled?

If you have been working on EI&D for some time but have stalled, you might ask yourself: How can we get ‘in-group’ members more proactively involved? How can we translate inclusion into tangible steps? How can we see inclusive behaviours take hold during pivotal moments - for example during the hiring process, talent recognition, promotion and performance?

Have been working on EI&D for decades?

If you have been working on EI&D for decades, developed thought leadership and shaped the conversation in this field, you might wonder: Who can challenge us further? Who can help us grow in our approach and thinking?

Using a collaborative approach, we engage with organizations at all levels, from the C-Suite to individual contributors, to work together to create a strategic, personal or operational level and support your EI&D ambitions.

Would you like to discuss your EI&D needs and ambitions? Get in touch with our Senior Advisor, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Josefine van Zanten by filling in the form at the end of the page.

02:25Building Inclusive Organizations
Building Inclusive Organizations
Senior Advisor, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Josefine van Zanten talks about IMD advisory to help organizations on their own EI&D journeys.

Taking conscious action

Our commitment

Over the last few weeks, global anti-racism protests and the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic on many communities and countries have exposed social inequalities in a very bright light, and provided all of us with the impetus for renewed action.

As a global, independent academic institute, we are guided by a strong sense of purpose: Challenging what is and inspiring what could be, we develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society in a positive and sustainable way. This purpose anchors our sphere of influence to the world of business and learning, while also compelling us to lead by example.

Focusing on the role of business in society, we believe that a sense of shared responsibility along with a genuine commitment to long-term, meaningful action is vitally important if society is to confront and resolve the issues that continue to affect in disproportionate ways the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us. In our work with executives and organizations, we actively challenge the conscious and unconscious biases of our community and audiences, including the more than 11,000 senior executives with whom we work annually. We encourage business leaders to consider the impacts of their decisions, to reduce deeply engrained inequalities and to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable future.

Closer to home, we strive to ensure that IMD is free from discrimination based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. Our goal is that IMD will be an even safer and welcoming place for all people – a place that encourages open debate with compassion, respect and support.

Making the world of work – the part of the world we can influence most – more diverse, inclusive and fair will be an ambitious pursuit. We know that reaching this goal requires more effort on our part. We take our mission and responsibility to heart, and are committed to intensify our efforts in four key areas:

  • Ensuring that IMD’s stance against any form of discrimination and injustice continues to be enshrined in our values and beliefs and is applied in our daily interactions
  • Overseeing broader diversity in our workforce and creating an even more inclusive environment for all our constituents, led by our Head of Diversity & Inclusion supported by our Executive Committee, Faculty and Staff
  • Intensifying our research efforts in the areas of diversity, inclusion and fairness
  • Ensuring that we include these topics in all our leadership development programs

These commitments will contribute to advancing the journey ahead of us. We, as academic institutions, do not change the world by ourselves, although we can influence current and future leaders in positive directions.

We at IMD are committed to encourage and help leaders to strive for a more diverse, inclusive and fair future. Self-reflection is a first step to achieve this because it all starts with the person in the mirror. We encourage you to join us on this meaningful journey.

IMD - The Institute for Management Development


Our EI&D approach is based on a change model that has been tested in many organizations  - for example, HP, Royal Dutch Shell, Royal DSM - and has resulted in tangible and sustained results.

The IMD EI&D Council plays the role of sounding board, where opportunities and hurdles are identified, addressed and acted upon. Members act as role models, allies and visible advocates, and oversee areas for change.

At IMD, staff, faculty, students and alumni are represented on our EI&D Council, ensuring a well-rounded source of voices. The EI&D Council is headed by our Senior Advisor, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity, who reports directly to our Executive Committee and our President.

We encourage you to join us on this journey!


Getting diversity & inclusion right
By Josefine van Zanten and Alyson Meister - 29 August 2019
Topics: Diversity
A good number of Fortune 500’s have been setting best practices and leading the way in the complicated field of Diversity and Inclusion, yet, others are still questioning the why’s and how’s of D&I. Many organizations…
5 min. read
Diversity & Inclusion: a case of targets, quotas or freewheeling?
By Josefine van Zanten and Alyson Meister - 27 May 2020
Topics: Diversity

The topic of setting Diversity & Inclusion targets may never have been more timely: emerging data on the workforce impact of the pandemic has indicated that women are more adversely affected than men, impacting…

6 min. read
Mind the micro-inequity: Fostering inclusion in teams and organizations
By Josefine van Zanten and Alyson Meister - 5 February 2020
Topics: Diversity
Rooting out micro-inequities is key to creating an inclusive culture in teams or organizations. Here are three main ways to do it
7 min. read
Diversity matters: the power of female leadership in impact investment
By Vanina Farber - 18 August 2020
Topics: Leadership, Investment

Can we make generalizations about women in impact investment?

Women are under-represented in the impact investment sector, and women sometimes shy away from finance. However, we cannot blame everything on women themselves…

5 min. read
Building a fairer society requires a new kind of leadership
By Ina Toegel and Mikolaj Jan Piskorski - 14 June 2019
Topics: Diversity
Gender inequality in work has been associated with the legacy of traditional gender specific roles, different approaches to education, negotiation and career choices, and prejudices and biases that will take time and…
4 min. read
Thrive as an LGBT+ executive or ally
By Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Ina Toegel, Maude Lavanchy Contributors: Feena May, Josefine van Zanten, Gurchaten Sandhu, Tiernan Brady, Rachael Evans, Daniel Seiler, Michael Piker, Daniel Masters - 20 June 2019
Topics: Culture, Diversity, General Management
As societies across many parts of the world are making legal and cultural progress to embrace the LGBT+ communities, many companies lag behind this process. LGBT+ executives still find it difficult to bring their full…
16 min. read
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