Research Points to the Value of Inclusive Leadership in Diverse Teams | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

July 20, 2021by Noah Shaw0

Summary of:

Ashikali, T., Groeneveld, S., & Kuipers, B. (2021). The role of inclusive leadership in supporting an inclusive climate in diverse public sector teams. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 41(3), 497–519.

Background & Theory:

While numerous past studies have examined the importance of inclusion initiatives among diverse work environments, not many studies have focused specifically on the role of inclusive leadership in this context. This study examines the role of inclusive leadership in fostering an inclusive climate in diverse teams.


Research was conducted by Tanachia Ashikali, Sandra Groeneveld, and Ben Kuipers to answer the following question:

    1. To what extent does inclusive leadership moderate the relationship between team diversity and inclusive work climate?


Participants who worked within teams in the Dutch central and local governments were recruited for this study. 45 teams, consisting of a total of 293 team members were given a survey to fill out. This survey measured team ethnic-cultural diversity, inclusive climate, inclusive leadership and several control variables.


The results determined that greater team ethnic-cultural diversity leads to lower team inclusiveness, which is supported by past literature on social categorization. This concept suggests that greater team diversity results in greater intergroup bias, impeding the participation and therefore, inclusion, of all team members.

Regarding how leadership impacts diverse teams, the authors found that inclusive leadership positively moderates the relationship between team diversity and inclusive work climate. This suggests that the more team leaders exhibit inclusive leadership behavior, the better they can cultivate an inclusive climate in the workplace where diverse team members feel their needs of belongingness and uniqueness are satisfied. Past research indicates that on a team level, this inclusive climate (cultivated by the inclusive leader) normalizes being open to differences and valuing them, as well as including these differences in decision-making processes

What We Can Learn:

Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insight:

  • Inclusive leaders have an impact on helping cultivate an inclusive work climate for highly diverse teams. This study demonstrates that when leadership engages in inclusive behavior, diverse team members feel included, thereby cultivating an inclusive work environment.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: Inclusive behavior does not always come natural to leaders but is vitally important. Spend time with clients, encouraging them to think about the ways in which they could be more inclusive leaders among the teams they manage.

For Everyone: Inclusion of employees is an important standard that leaders should live by if they want a more inclusive climate with less workplace conflict. If your team is struggling to cultivate this inclusive climate, Pollack Peacebuilding offers diversity and inclusion training that helps create an environment where all voices matter.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and holds a Master's in Dispute Resolution from the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

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