This month, with 8 March being International Women’s Day, I’ve been focusing on the Key Steps we can take to make a difference, bridge power gaps and be part of the ongoing journey to equality.

This week, I’d like to challenge us to ask ourselves if we are really being inclusive? Do you really know the difference between diversity and inclusion and what it takes to build a truly inclusive culture – at work and in our personal spaces? If you are hesitant to answer a loud YES, you aren’t alone. After two decades of effort, many corporates, are questioning this and have had to admit much of their efforts have failed. Thankfully, when we go back to the research and mine the data for what does work, there are some gems. Let me share some of the insights we explore during my keynotes so we can all take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

  1. Understand the difference between diversity and inclusion. One of my favourite metaphors can assist here… Diversity is inviting different genders, ages, races, religions, personality types and so on to the party. Inclusion means asking them to dance, choose the venue, the music, the food and more to create a party that they are excited to be part of. It’s clear that diversity and inclusion are not the same thing. Companies can mandate diversity, but they have to cultivate inclusion. That means me and you. We need to get out of our comfort zones, engage with different people, get to know different cultures… Maybe start by diarising a coffee with someone outside of our usual circle with no other purpose that to connect – human to human – and expand your awareness. Covid triggered the very opposite. We cocooned, stayed away from people that weren’t in our immediate circle and avoided contact in general. It served its purposed and now we need to undo some of the negative impact it’s had on inclusivity. As we start to come out of our cocoons, let’s think of it as a rebirthing and reflect on how you can make a difference. One useful strategy is…
  2. Engage in reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is a partnership between a senior-level employee and a junior-level employee in which the junior-level employee helps fill in possible gaps in the more experienced person’s knowledge. This is often initiated to assist in bridging technology gaps, but reverse mentoring relationships can be mutually beneficial and actually fill-in knowledge gaps in both partners’ backgrounds. In addition, it helps facilitate respectful relationships between different generations, cultures, genders and so on in the workplace. If there is a formal initiative running in your workplace, make sure you join-in as the benefits are immeasurable. If there is no formal initiative, don’t wait. Seek out your own opportunity to partner with someone. If you are the senior, there will be many willing, young people eager to learn from you and share their skills with you too. If you are the junior, package the value you have to offer and ask HR for an appropriate senior they can introduce you to who would benefit from your expertise, fresh eyes and insights.
  3. Increase your emotional intelligence. All the research coming out of the past two decades shows that organisations who ease up on control tactics and instead focus on developing emotionally intelligent leaders are seeing the benefits. Happier people, increased engagement, more meaningful conversations and the bottom-line increases (19% on average). It’s a no-brainer. For more than 35 years, the research has been showing us that emotionally intelligent leaders are the difference that makes the difference. I’ve mined this research and what I eventually wrote up in my thesis, surprised even me. The positive results are staggering. But it’s taken a while for business to catch-up. During the 2010s, many organisations still weren’t getting it. I’m happy to say that I’ve seen a significant shift this decade. There’s a huge pull from organisations and eagerness to engage in this work. Our demand is at an all-time high… exciting times as we get to work with more and more individuals and leaders who really want to make a difference. This brings me to you (and me)…

Do you know your current EQ score? What are you doing to continually increase your EQ? If you’d like to learn more about the work we do and how we are empowering individuals, leaders and teams, contact She’ll be happy to send you some info or arrange a chat. You can also look back on some of my articles, maybe start with the Secrets to Emotionally Intelligent Conversations and let’s work together to be part of creating an Inclusive Culture and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’