The Covid-19 Storm Has Blown Us into Uncharted Territory.
Most office towers are emptied or scanty. Employees who usually work on-site are sequestered at home. Millions of service workers, and a growing number of corporate workers, have lost their jobs. Businesses are determining how to safely reopen their doors in a drastically different reality, essential workers are putting their lives at risk, uncertainty and fear are rampant, and social inequalities are magnified.
Empathy and trust have become critical as physical distancing makes connecting across differences particularly challenging. Likewise, companies around the world have been forced into an unplanned experiment with remote and flexible working.
According to Amar Bhattacharya and Nicholas Stern, ‘’The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the fragility and dangers of the old growth path’’. Thus, the case for inclusive leadership post COVID-19 can be described as a global emergency.
COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the urgency of inclusive growth and the impact of unequal growth.”–Shamina Singh, Founder & President of Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
These profound truths by these eminent personalities point to one fact, the world has become increasingly unequal in countries, societies and businesses. The trend of inequality is likely to accelerate, partly also by the economic damage of the current COVID-19 crisis.
Nations and businesses have begun to look at ways of transforming their economies after all this chaos. Thus, it has been universally agreed that, leadership style will matter now more than ever.
Reports from several quarters have alluded to the fact that gender inclusive leadership will be an important part of the road map to economy recovery post COVID -19.
For instance, during the Africa Summit 2020, on Thursday 25 June 2020, organized by the African Leadership UK group, the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia H.E Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor emphasized ‘the need to prioritize the empowerment of women and girls in Africa during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. She stressed that this was going to be a key response strategy for economic recovery post COVID-19.
Truly, the real heroines in the fight against COVID-19 are women’. Significant attention has been given to women political leaders in high-income settings, where it has been reported that women have led several countries’ effective national responses to COVID-19.
Thus, for there to be a transformed economy post COVID 19, there has to be a leadership that is inclusive of all genders. In spite of the numerous leadership constructs, a deficit continues to exist, calling for a redress to these societal inadequacies, with immense women leadership underrepresentation prevailing in most countries. The leadership potential in women is likely to be unleashed through an inclusive approach that cuts across the workplace spectrum.
Inclusive leadership have been simply explained as “leaders who are aware of their own biases and preferences, actively seek out and consider different views and perspectives to inform better decision-making.
The transition to a new way of working—in the context of a global pandemic with far-reaching societal and economic implications—presents both challenges and opportunities for promoting diversity and fostering inclusion. Before COVID-19, the social and business imperatives for diversity and inclusion (D&I) became increasingly clear, with commitment to and investment in D&I on the rise across corporate America and around the world. Now, in light of COVID-19, it is more important than ever for organizations and individuals to practice inclusive leadership.
In this period of heightened uncertainty, a perceived lack of control and the spread of misinformation increases risks of bias, xenophobia, and racism that impact people in the workplace and beyond. At work, ever-changing policies impact individuals in different ways—based on, for example, job classification, socioeconomic status, living situation, family structure, immigration status, or the ease of virtual alternatives to daily work—which can perpetuate inequities in the workplace. Therefore, organizations must take steps now to continue to strengthen diversity and build inclusive cultures in ways unlike ever before—through new communications strategies (internal and external), programs, data collection practices, and interventions that continue the momentum toward a more equitable and just world. A daily practice of inclusive leadership has become a necessity for all leaders as well.
It has therefore become pertinent for nations and organisations to practice inclusive leadership as a means of building back transformed economies, post COVID 19.
Why is inclusive leadership important?
Inclusive leadership is essential for making sure diverse thinking is respected, managed, heard and applied. In addition, inclusive leaders who understand how different thinkers react to change are uniquely prepared to communicate and influence in a way that gets everyone on board with new ideas and new ways of doing things.
Another positive score for inclusive leadership is how essential it is for innovation, as companies focus more intently on innovation, whether it’s the big, transformational kind or smaller, incremental improvements. Innovation efforts don’t usually fail because no one could come up with a great, workable idea. It’s at the execution and implementation phases where things tend to fall apart. One reason? Innovation implies change, and our mindsets create resistance to change.
Although, there are several factors that make people feel included in organisations, including an organization’s mission, policies, and practices, as well as co-worker behaviours; it mostly comes down to leaders. What leaders say and do makes up to a 70% difference as to whether an individual reports feeling included. This really matters because the more people feel included, the more they speak up, go the extra mile, and collaborate — all of which ultimately lifts organizational performance.
Given this formula, inclusive leadership is emerging as a unique and critical capability helping government and organizations adapt to diverse changes caused by the pandemic.
In light of this business case for inclusive leadership as a way of building back transformed economies post covid-19, the Amazons Watch Magazine, in strategic partnership with the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (CELD), presents the 8th edition of the South America-Africa-Middle East- Asia Women Summit (SAMEAWS), with the theme set as: Building Back Transformed Economies Post COVID 19: The need for Inclusive Leadership.
SAMEAWS which has always held in the city of Dubai, will hold virtually this year as a result of the social distancing necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The event shall electronically gather Female Heads of Government, Deputy Heads of Government, Senior Government Leaders and Stakeholders from across developing nations, under one roof, to realise the following objectives:
- Convene Think-Tanks, Experts, Academics, Researchers and Research scholars to explore unique approaches to economy recovery post COVID-19.
- Get Global Female Business and Political Leaders to forge and create powerful networks that would help strengthen their influence and impact in their countries and their pledge for inclusive leadership in their countries, communities, businesses and work places.
- Convene a High-Level Roundtable Sessions and Panel Discussions for stakeholders across developing nations to engage and exchange experiences, lessons-learned and best practices in developing diversity of skills and female leadership in the society.
- Celebrate some of influential leaders and businesses across emerging economies, who have responded significantly to the global pandemic and pivoted the way they operate to be a force for good.
- Celebrate female led businesses and organisations who have through their staying power, proven that women can achieve whatever they set out to.
SAMEAWS 2020 shall have the following key highlights:
- Keynote Presentations and Conversations
- Female led countries responses to the pandemic- lessons for inclusive leadership: a roundtable session of Female Heads of government, First Ladies and Wives of Governments from across developing nations
- Empowering Women in Emerging Economies for Global Leadership Opportunities – a discussion with established Business/political Leaders from across developing nations.
- Gender, Policy and Financial Inclusion – Leapfrogging Women’s Access to Capital: a panel discussion with financial Leaders from across developing countries.
- We are Inclusive Leaders – A roundtable of organisations that are sterling examples of inclusive leadership. They will discuss their gains and how they do it.
- CELD’s Blue Ribbon Awards
- The Annual Global Women Leaders Hall of Fame (GWLHOF) Induction Ceremony
- Unveiling the Amazons Watch Magazine’s 2021 Game Changers -Top 200 Women to Watch from Emerging Nations
Some of the key expected Participants at SAMEAWS 2020:
- Female Heads of Government
- Female Deputy Heads of Government and Senior Female Government Leaders
- First Ladies and Wives of Heads of Government
- Major Industry Titans and Stakeholders
- Female Heads and Members of Boards
- Female Business Leaders and Leading CEOs
- Academics, Researchers and Research scholars
- Women Development Institutions and International Development Institutions