According to research on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, if you want to build teams capable of innovating, you need diversity. Diversity enhances creativity and leads to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity improves the bottom line. But diversity on its own is not enough. Leading research firm Berlitz says that while diversity is the mix, inclusiveness is the lever. Key in building truly inclusive environments is leaders who have what Berlitz terms “cultural agility,” or the capability to navigate, communicate and function well in diverse cultural settings. Now widely recognized as a lever for high-performing teams, inclusive leadership is becoming a critical skill that employers seek in recruiting, hiring and promoting their next generation of employees. Our Youth-Adult Partnerships Volunteer program, which trains individuals to serve as volunteers for our residential program ANYTOWN, prepares youth and young adults for professional success as inclusive leaders.

Training for volunteers includes 30 hours of development in four fundamental benchmarks of “cultural agility”
1) adequately assessing the possible effects of culture in a relationship;
2) ability to illuminate cultural underpinnings of behavior and close cultural gaps through dialogue;
3) ability to use broad and flexible behavior to achieve goals; and
4) culturally competent mentoring among diverse leaders who support change by modeling inclusive behaviors.

Through the training we provide, as well as the opportunity to put inclusive leadership skills into action, our volunteers hone their skills in assessing how culture plays a role in various environments, learn how to effectively facilitate dialogue, learn strategies for and practice flexible behaviors in achieving ANYTOWN goals and serve as diverse mentors who model for teens through the ANYTOWN week what inclusive leadership looks like. All of the skills that our volunteers learn and practice through their service are transferrable to professional environments seeking to hire and promote inclusive leaders. Youth and young adult volunteers serve alongside adult volunteers who represent various sectors, including business, education, law enforcement, research, medicine, non-profit and public service.

Through training and working together, youth and adults alike put shared leadership and cross-generational cooperation into practice, providing a model for effective inter-generational problem-solving and community-building.]

Read More