Inclusive Leadership Training Program

“It's all been useful just to make people aware that their actions and personal motives and their subconscious thoughts can impact on others. I have seen much better dynamics in my team since starting this program”

-Inclusive Leadership Workshop Participant

The Inclusive Leadership Program is a research and training project aimed at maximizing performance and building future capability in Australian science. The program has been designed by academics and professional leadership coaches from the Centre for Ethical Leadership (CEL) specifically for teams working in a medical research institute (MRI) environment. The key premise of this pilot program is that inclusive leadership can facilitate higher productivity, retention, engagement, morale and innovation.

*Research report will be available early 2019

Why Inclusive Leadership?

Workplace culture is evolving under the demand of innovation. In addition, an awareness that pioneering discoveries are made by teams, not individuals, calls for a transformation of leadership skills. Inclusive leadership has been identified as an important skill that is vital for a productive workplace. Inclusive leadership promotes diversity and harnesses the unique capabilities of each team member.

Leading thinkers in corporate businesses are uncovering the significance of a diverse workforce. Studies have found that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers, and ethically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same (Hunt, Layton, & Prince, 2015). Furthermore, when companies focus on diversity, as well as, inclusivity, teams outperform their peers by 80 percent (Deloitte, 2013)

Inclusion occurs when a diversity of people (e.g. of different ages, cultural backgrounds, genders) feel valued and respected, have access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute their perspectives and talents to improve their organisation.
— Diversity Council Australia

Science can also benefit from an inclusive workplace. According to a report from Male Champions of Change (2017), "a predicted 75% of all future jobs will require STEM literacy and skills. We must rethink the status quo and build inclusive environments where women and girls can thrive in STEM" (p. 2). There is mounting evidence to show that academic organizations which foster diverse perspectives and ‘make it safe’ to propose novel ideas can build smarter, more creative teams (Nielsen et al., 2017). However, in order to see these results, this type of team requires a culture that acknowledges the various needs of each individual, offers support, and communicates effectively (Bell, 2009).

WiSPP has partnered with the Centre for Ethical Leadership (CEL) to offer an inclusive leadership training program designed specifically for medical research institutes. During the course of the pilot program, CEL will investigate how professional coaching in ‘inclusive leadership’ can influence the performance of the 30 nominated teams across Parkville Precinct, and aim to improve productivity and workplace culture.

Significance of research

The present research is designed to understand the relationship between inclusive leadership and research cultures that foster creativity, productivity, representation, and retention. Training in inclusive leadership will be assessed by considering its effect on workplace indicators of functioning and individual outcomes.

The strong scientific component of this study is an asset, given that medical research institutes are keen for evidence-based approaches to improving team culture and capacity-building. While research has been conducted in other types of workplaces that has a) linked inclusive and diverse organisations to objective measures of success, and b) found a relationship between inclusive leadership and organisational outcomes, as far as we know, this is the first test of inclusive leadership training in a medical-research setting.

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Program Structure

The program is divided into two modules:

Module 1: Is focused on raising awareness and personal connection to the challenges of inclusive leadership - the session will use both fiction (film) and reality (data) to unpack some of the core issues that may inhibit inclusion.

By separating our leaders and teams the intention is to create a space for candid, relevant, thought provoking conversations. 

Module 2: Brings teams together into mixed groups to work towards actions and solutions for the challenges surfaced in Module 1 through a focus on skills and behaviours.

Participating in the program will equip teams with higher levels of awareness, connection and commitment to inclusion which will allow them to work more effectively in the future.



Bell, S., With assistance from Kate O'Halloran, J. S., & Yu, Z. (2009). Women in science: maximising productivity, diversity and innovation: Federation of Australian Scientific & Technological Societies (FASTS).

Deloitte (2013). Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new recipe to improve business performance. Retrieved from

Hunt, V., Layton, D., & Prince, S. (2015). Why Diversity Matters. McKinsey&Company. Retrieved from

Male Champions of Change. (2017, 11 October). Urgent Action Required on Gender Equality in STEM to Boost Our Innovation Potential [media release]. Retrieved from

Nielsen, M. W., Alegria, S., Borjeson, L., Etzkowitz, H., Falk-Krzesinski, H. J., Joshi, A., ...Schiebinger, L. (2017). Opinion: Gender diversity leads to better science. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114(8), 1740-1742. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1700616114