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Fostering Inclusivity Through A Coaching Culture – The Key To Engagement And Belonging

Written by: Gillian Jones-Williams, Senior Level Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Gillian Jones-Williams

In today's dynamic and ever-evolving business landscape, creating a culture of inclusion is paramount to an organisation's success. It isn’t just about diversity; it is about fostering a sense of belonging, where every employee feels valued, respected, and empowered. It means enabling a climate where everyone can bring their authentic self to work. A powerful approach to achieving this goal is through the establishment of a coaching culture. In our book "How to Create a Coaching Culture," (Gillian Jones and Ro Gorrell) we emphasise the role of coaching in building a workplace that values inclusivity and engagement.

Two women sitting at table discussing documents

The link between inclusivity, engagement, and a coaching culture contributes significantly to improved engagement and productivity. Often in organisations different people are responsible for inclusion, engagement, and a coaching culture. However, these three things are interwoven, forming the fabric of a thriving workplace. As organizations strive to build cultures that are diverse, equitable, and inclusive, they must recognize the importance of a coaching mindset. Managers, in particular, must embrace their roles as inclusivity champions, recognising that it's not just about being included but also about belonging. A coaching culture is the cornerstone to unlocking the true potential of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

The pitfalls of excluding belonging

One common mistake organisations make when striving for inclusivity is neglecting the importance of belonging. Inclusion is not just about inviting people to the table; it's about truly making them feel like they belong there. Inclusivity without a focus on belonging is superficial and unsustainable. When employees don't feel like they belong, they may still feel isolated, regardless of diversity efforts.

In this article, we will share some thoughts from our book, explore the connection between inclusivity, engagement, and a coaching culture, and why managers must take the lead in creating a sense of belonging within their teams.

The essence of a coaching culture

A real coaching culture is founded on continuous learning and development. It encourages open communication, feedback, and collaboration, enabling employees to unlock their full potential. A coaching culture is about creating an environment where everyone can grow, learn, and contribute effectively. This growth mindset aligns seamlessly with the principles of inclusivity.

A coaching culture is one where leaders, managers, and employees engage in ongoing coaching conversations, helping each other grow, learn, and develop. A coaching culture empowers individuals to take ownership of their development, fosters a growth mindset, and enhances overall performance. This approach doesn't just benefit individual employees; it has a profound impact on the organisation as a whole, especially in terms of knowledge management.

Promoting inclusivity through coaching

A coaching culture is inherently inclusive because it values the unique perspectives and contributions of every team member. Coaching conversations focus on active listening, asking insightful questions, and holding space for people to explore their issues and performance —all of which are essential elements of an inclusive workplace. Inclusion starts with acknowledging that every individual has something valuable to offer.

Engagement and coaching culture

Engagement is now recognised as being one of the key factors in employee productivity and satisfaction. When employees feel engaged, they are more likely to be motivated and committed to their work. A coaching culture fosters engagement by creating an environment where employees feel heard, valued, and supported in their personal and professional development. When employees feel that their growth matters to the organisation they feel more engaged.

The role of managers in inclusivity

Managers play a pivotal role in creating an inclusive culture, but only if they have a coaching mindset. Employees are asking for coaching all day everyday – and managers need to learn to hear this. Often, they see coaching as something that they need to find ‘time to do’ but a coaching mindset is where they see it as intrinsic to their role. It is their responsibility to engage their teams on a daily basis to ensure that all team members feel a sense of belonging.

Open Communication and Active Listening: In a coaching culture, open communication is encouraged, and active listening is prioritized. This creates an environment where all voices are heard and valued, regardless of their background or perspective. When employees feel heard, their sense of inclusivity and belonging increases, as they perceive their input as essential to the organisation. It provides a safe space for employees to voice their thoughts, concerns, and ideas, fostering a sense of belonging. Inclusivity thrives in environments where individuals are heard and respected.

Feedback and Personalised Development: Coaching cultures emphasise regular feedback and individualised development plans. This means that employees receive guidance and support tailored to their unique needs and aspirations. Having an in-depth development plan allows employees to see that their growth and development matter to the organisation, which means that they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and inclusivity.

Empowerment and Ownership: Coaching fosters a sense of empowerment and ownership among employees. They are encouraged to take initiative, make decisions, and contribute to the organisation's success. This empowerment reinforces their sense of belonging because they are not just passive participants but active contributors to the workplace culture.

Equity and Fairness: In a coaching culture, there is a commitment to fairness and equality. Managers behave as coaches and understand it is their role to treat all employees with respect and provide equal opportunities for growth and development. This commitment to fairness and equality reinforces the idea that every employee is valued and included, regardless of their background or identity. It also ensures that equity is considered for groups of people who need additional support to succeed.

Trust and Psychological Safety: An absolute must in an inclusive culture is an atmosphere of trust and psychological safety. When employees feel safe to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment, they are more likely to express themselves authentically. This trust and safety contributes to a sense of belonging and inclusivity because employees can be their true selves at work.

Inclusive Leadership: In a coaching culture, leaders see their roles as coaches and these inclusive leaders actively champion inclusivity and diversity. They promote a sense of belonging by recognising and celebrating the unique contributions of team members and recognise the synergy of a diverse team. Inclusive leadership sets a powerful example and reinforces the importance of belonging within the organisation.

Conflict Resolution and Relationship Building: Coaching cultures also emphasise effective conflict resolution and relationship-building skills. When conflicts arise, people address them constructively and respectfully. This means that positive relationships amongst employees are maintained and strengthens the sense of belonging within teams.

Inclusivity and Engagement are interdependent. When employees feel included, they are more likely to engage fully in their work. Conversely, an engaged workforce is essential for creating a culture of inclusion. The coaching culture serves as the catalyst for this symbiotic relationship.

So, what can managers do?

Importantly they can lead by example: Modelling inclusive behaviour and demonstrating the importance of coaching is critical. When leaders actively seek feedback, provide mentorship, and show vulnerability, it encourages their teams to do the same.

This means that managers need to be equipped with the skills to coach naturally, and on a daily basis. They also need sufficient Emotional Intelligence to demonstrate empathy, and the ability to give feedback constructively.

In summary

Creating a culture of inclusion is a journey that requires effort, commitment, and a strategic approach. As we mention in our book, the link between inclusivity, engagement, and a coaching culture is undeniable. When employees feel heard, respected, empowered, and included in such an environment, they are more likely to develop a strong sense of belonging and contribute positively to the organisation's culture and success.

By promoting a coaching culture, organisations can not only enhance engagement and productivity but also create an environment where every team member feels valued, heard, and a true sense of belonging. Inclusivity is not just about numbers; it's about making every individual a vital part of the organisation's success. Managers, need to adopt the mindset of taking responsibility for fostering this culture of inclusion, ensuring that no one is left behind in their pursuit of growth and development.

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Gillian Jones-Williams Brainz Magazine

Gillian Jones-Williams, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Gillian is Managing Director of Emerge Development Consultancy which she founded 25 years ago. She is a Master Executive Coach working with many CEOs and managing Directors globally. She is also an international speaker and in 2020 was named by f: Entrepreneur as one of the leading UK Female Entrepreneurs in the I also campaign.

Gillian founded the RISE Women’s Development Programme which is delivered both in the UK and the Middle East, and Saudi and is her absolute passion.

If you want to know more about our Diversity and Inclusion solutions please get in touch. We are working with many organisations on their Diversity and Inclusion interventions, strategies, policies and programmes. For more information contact us at 01329 820580 or via


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