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Leading with Inclusion: Strategies for Fostering Empowerment


Celebrating International Women's day 2024

Leading with Inclusion: Strategies for Fostering Empowerment

In today’s ever-changing world, effective leadership is inseparable from principles of inclusion and empowerment. On International Women’s Day 2024, as we reflect on the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ we are reminded of the power of diversity, empowerment, and collective action in driving positive change.
As we delve deeper into the topic of leading with inclusion, we have the privilege of speaking with Sophia, (CEO of our women-led organisation, Savana) about her personal journey, the importance of understanding survivors’ needs to effectively support them, and the tools she utilises for effective leadership.
At Savana, we are deeply committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and empowerment, where every voice is valued, respected, and heard. Our CEO, Sophia, embodies these values in her approach to leadership, recognising the importance of empowering employees to drive meaningful outcomes for survivors. She firmly believes that autonomy in decision-making leads to increased buy-in from staff, resulting in greater commitment and dedication when supporting women and survivors of sexual violence.

Sophia is also a strong advocate for collectivism, recognising that we are all driving toward the same purpose: a world free from sexual violence. This shared vision serves as the cornerstone of our organisation, guiding our actions and decisions as we work together to create meaningful change.

Embracing diversity is equally paramount to Sophia, drawing from her own experiences as a mixed-race woman to highlight the richness and importance of diverse perspectives. She understands that true inclusivity requires a deep understanding of each individual’s unique experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives, and is committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

"Empowering people to know that they are heard is important to me. I want my team and clients to feel safe in coming forwards with suggestions, questions and concerns.”

Personal Journey:
Reflecting on her own journey to leadership, Sophia talks about leveraging insights from her personal journey, including growing up in a household where domestic violence, coercion, and control were the norm. She possesses a profound understanding of the significance of empathy, resilience, and inclusivity in leadership. Drawing from her own experiences as a survivor, she brings a unique perspective to the table, allowing her to grasp the needs and barriers faced by survivors on a deeper level. Sophia utilises this understanding to inform strategies aimed at supporting survivors within the organisation, ensuring that their voices are heard, valued, and prioritised in all initiatives.

Supporting survivors:
Sophia also recognises the critical importance of supporting survivors within our organisation. She firmly believes that:

This quote reflects Sophia’s deep understanding of the challenges faced by survivors and underscores the importance of providing them with a platform to express their needs and concerns.

Tools for effective leadership:
In leading by example, Sophia talks about leveraging “collaborative practices” and setting up “working groups for projects”, allowing for “all voices to be heard and experiences shared”. She ensures direct accessibility to herself as a CEO for both clients and staff, maintaining a genuine open-door policy. Additionally, Sophia promotes autonomous decision-making, “trusting the expertise of individuals in the room while ensuring strategic alignment and purpose are achieved”. By utilising these tools for effective leadership, she fosters a culture where everyone feels valued, empowered, and motivated to contribute their best. This proactive approach not only sets a standard for inclusive leadership but also equips team members with the resources they need to excel in their roles and drive positive change within the organisation and beyond.

Drawing from Sophia’s valuable insights, we’ve highlighted the following key strategies into actionable tips for leading with inclusion:

By implementing these top tips for leading with inclusion, organisations can cultivate a culture of empowerment, diversity, and belonging, driving positive change and fostering a more inclusive environment for all.
These tips are not only applicable within Savana but can also serve as inspiration for women everywhere to promote inclusion within their own practices.

“The key thing when seeking to embrace diversity is to really get to know your people. Understanding what is important to someone, and why, how they come to a decision and what barriers they may have to particular things, is hugely important. "

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us carry forward the spirit of ‘Inspiring Inclusion’ in our daily lives, empowering one another to strive for a brighter and more equitable future. Together, we can continue to drive positive change and create a world where every woman’s voice is heard and valued.

As we reflect on the topic of leading with inclusion, let us remember that diversity is not just about representation; it’s about recognising and embracing the nuances of the people around us. By getting to know our team members on a personal level and understanding their values, motivations, and barriers, we can create a workplace where everyone can thrive. Together, as we celebrate #IWD24, let’s shed light on the importance of inclusive leadership in driving positive change for women everywhere. By embracing the power of diversity, empowerment, and collective action we can inspire inclusion and drive positive change in our organisations and beyond.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, support is available. You can access free counselling and support services by using our online referral form or visit our website for more information on services available through Savana.

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