How does gender impact one’s experiences at work?
What about one’s race, age and contract status?
How does discrimination manifest in your organization or team?
Most importantly, what can you do about it?

These are the questions we examine in our United Nations emerging leaders e-learning programme module, Diversity and Inclusion: The Key to Leadership.

The United Nations is the principal international standard-setting institution and bears a special responsibility to lead by example and demonstrate the core values of equality, human rights and non-discrimination. Ultimately, that responsibility devolves to each one of us, from hiring managers to human resources personnel, and from junior staff to senior leadership. We all have a part to play in creating a fair, equal and respectful working environment. – António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, UN Enabling Environment Guidelines

Diversity and Inclusion are not just buzzwords that make organizations appear progressive or politically correct; they are essential elements that make or break an organization’s and a team’s success.  

True inclusion involves creating a sense of belonging for all. This means creating an environment where everyone feels valued, heard and respected.

According to a recent study by the International Labour Organization (ILO), increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace are associated with greater productivity, innovation and workforce well-being. However, many organizations, workers and societies are missing out on the benefits. 

Lack of inclusivity impacts both the individual, the team and the organization. Studies show it can cause reduced morale, increased absenteeism, team conflicts and tension, and lowered productivity.

To address this, all staff, especially managers have an important role to play. In fact, one of ILO’s core recommendations is that all staff must be accountable as role models; senior leaders, managers and all staff and these actions must apply throughout staff experience in the workplace  -- covering recruitment, retention and development.

Learn to be an Inclusive Leader

This intensive module will take you on a journey of the core components of diversity & inclusion while helping you define what a respectful, open and collaborative work environment looks like. This includes Bias; Identities and intersectionality; gender norms and inclusion; collaboration against racism, microaggressions and speaking up.

For each of these components, you will gain insight into your own experiences and the strategies you can use to manage challenges and advance inclusion.

Throughout the module you will reflect on your role and what specific actions you will take to foster inclusion and combat discrimination. First-line managers have the most significant impact on the experiences of staff and can greatly influence the office environment.

Remember a truly inclusive workplace requires a holistic effort that involves everyone in the organization, at all levels, in all locations.

We will help you become a leader in diversity and inclusion – in your own way.

What sets this UNSSC diversity and inclusion training apart from others?

This training moves beyond superficial learning about policies and ideals to examining your personal and team experiences at the office.

Facilitators from around the globe will take you through an adventure that starts from awareness-raising, strategy-learning and ends with a commitment to act. There will be small group-exercises with visualizations, self-reflections and the opportunity to share in a safe learning environment. Instead of independent group work and reporting back, you are guided through exercises and discussions by your own small group facilitator.  In plenary, we further develop on the learning, sharing and strategies for action.

The TransforME Now team of former UN staff and consultants use a “coaching approach” to group work to engender self-learning and identification of the most relevant actions and solutions for oneself. This organization is committed to helping “individuals and organizations create thriving, inclusive workplaces free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.”

As one participant reflected, "The course's methodology was quite refreshing. We didn’t simply hear presentations about the latest action plan or policy of the UN system. Rather, it provided us with a platform to have frank and open discussions about these core issues, our challenges and how to promote authentic inclusion”.

Feedback on this module’s approach  

The module’s unique introspection, reflection and safe-space discussions approach was commended by staff across various UN entities. Here are some of the testimonials from past UNSSC course participants:

I think I learned the most in the session on Diversity and Inclusion. I particularly enjoyed the breakout group where we first spoke among women, and then heard the men talk amongst themselves. It helped to highlight the many similarities people from the same group face, while also highlighting the many differences that also exist depending on our personal backgrounds. It was a very interesting session.

The modules on Managing Up and Diversity and Inclusion were exceptional!”

Best session so far, so engaging and varied

“Amazing session, so much to think about!”

“Interactive and thought-provoking!”

“An eye-opening session and a must for all colleagues”

Emotional intelligence as well as diversity and inclusion are the two topics which I personally could not get enough of and that are worth expanding.”

Former participants have expressed that discrimination and microaggressions have led them to avoid colleagues, feel disengaged, get depressed and several left the organization they worked for. One participant even shared that she suffered from PTSD after working with a toxic manager.

Lack of inclusivity impacts both the individual, team and organization. It can cause reduced morale, bad team spirit and a lack of productivity. In fact, studies found that 40 per cent of employees estimate they waste 2 weeks or more ruminating about a problem.

On the flip side, diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions (People Management). Diverse companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovative and get 2.3 times more cash flow per employee (Josh Bersin).

First line managers are those who most impact staff experience, more than Division Directors or even organizational leadership. In one study of 7,272 U.S. adults, Gallup found that 50 percent of employees left their job "to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career."   

A real Ah-ha moment for one participant was the awareness that she had major blind spots and was not seeing the discrimination and subtle exclusion that some of her direct supervisees were facing in the organization on a regular basis.

Can you commit to being a Leader in Diversity and Inclusion?

For real culture to change and to embrace the incredible, diverse mosaic of staff in the UN system, the emerging leaders of today must set the environment, lead by example and take forward the actions needed to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.

We invite you to sign up for a different experiential thought-provoking learning experience through the United Nations System Staff College’s UN Emerging e-Learning Programme “Diversity and Inclusion: Key to Leadership” session.

You are an agent of change in fostering the thriving workplace you wish to see.

2023 marks the 10th Anniversary of UN Emerging Leaders experience course. To date, 1,100 mid-level managers across the UN system have benefited from the programme. Together they come from more than 135 duty stations and 88 different UN organizations.

Should you wish to see more testimonials from our alumni have a look. Please have a look at the graduation speeches from the last cohorts, or you can read some spotlight interviews. You can also search for #UNELE2020, #UNELE2021, #UNELE2022, #UNELE2023, #UNELEeca across social media.

You are welcome to have a look at our latest open house webinar recording, presentation and programme e-book. For any inquiries on the upcoming editions and customized programmes for emerging leaders, please email