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Inclusive leadership in organisations

Under construction!

The Listen Include Respect guidelines are still being completed - stay tuned for illustrations which will be added shortly to help explain these guidelines!


Representation is important.


Leadership groups at organisations like boards, committees or councils should be representative of who they are working for.


This is especially important for organisations working for the rights of people who are most often excluded. 

Inclusion should be driven from the top of organisations.

People with intellectual disabilities have experience and knowledge that people without disabilities even if they are ‘experts’ would not be able to bring to the table.

Avoid tokenism by making sure people with intellectual disabilities are given the time, support and accommodations so that they are really part of conversations and decisions.


Recruit self-advocates to be part of your governance.

Self-advocacy helps to people to:

  • develop leadership skills

  • build confidence in taking part 

  • understand how to represent other people with a disability

You can read more about self-advocacy here.

However, organisations must understand that self-advocacy is about what people with intellectual disabilities think, not what the organisation thinks. Be prepared to be challenged! 


Training and orientation should be accessible and inclusive. 

Anyone who is part of a council, committee or board needs training and orientation to understand the background of the organisation, the work plan, and the expectations of their role.


Organisations should make sure that training and orientations are accessible and easy to understand.


Take into account the extra time or support that a person may need to learn the ropes of a new role!


People with intellectual disabilities should be part of all decisions of the board, including the complicated legal or money decisions.

The members of the group, board or council should be fully included and supported in meetings and be able to participate and contribute fully to all of the decisions that are made by the group.

Your organisation may need to spend extra time presenting and talking about complicated information in an easy way to make sure that everyone understands and can take part in decisions.

Many self-advocacy organisations have experience of talking about budgets and legal information in an accessible way. Ask them for help if you need it.  


Provide accommodations so that people can take part. 

Ask what accommodations people may need to take part. For example, we have heard that for some people a support person is useful to help prepare in advance. 

You can read more about good support here

People may need meeting information sent in other formats, for example, audio recordings. 

Budgets should take into account the accommodations people may need. 

If the accommodations that people ask for and need in order to take part are not met, people with intellectual disabilities should not be afraid to step away from a board until they are.


The role of other board members is key in supporting self-advocates to be included.


Everyone on the board should understand the principles of inclusion. Everyone should be respectful of accommodations that are needed to take part, especially the
chair person. Awareness training for the board may be useful. 


People with intellectual disabilities should feel like their contributions are as valuable as everyone else's.


People with intellectual disabilities should not be afraid of saying that they don’t understand or stopping a meeting  to make sure that they understand and can have their say. Giving everyone in the meeting traffic light cards to pause the meeting or ask a question can help with this.


Time and thought should be put into
planning a meeting to make sure everyone’s needs are accommodated.

This includes making sure documents and other information for the meeting re accessible to everyone and that meetings are run in an inclusive way.

You can read more about inclusive meetings here.  

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