5 Podcasts for Leaders Looking to Build Inclusive Workplaces

Illustration: Inc. Magazine.

Prior to the pandemic, I didn’t love audio content. But as my daily habits have changed, so has the media that I (and a lot of people) consume. Now, I rely regularly on podcasts as a means to help me learn and grow as a leader.

Chances are if you’re a leader, you’re involved in more and more conversations on how to ensure your workplace is inclusive and equitable. And, you’re not alone. In fact, analysis from Harvard Business Review shows that the frequency with which CEOs talk about issues of equity, fairness, and inclusion on S&P 500 earnings calls has increased by 658 percent over the past 4 years. But simply talking about these issues isn’t enough.

As a leader, you need to promote a culture of continuous learning on these topics and keep a pulse on today’s rapidly changing workforce so that you’re well-equipped to help employees battle burnout, stay ahead in the war on talent, and ensure your future of work strategy doesn’t leave anyone behind.

If your goal is to lead with empathy and build a diverse, inclusive, and psychologically safe workplace in 2022, here are 5 podcasts that can help you get there:

1. The Knowledge Project

Shane Parrish, author of the Farnam Street blog, hosts long-form conversations with leaders like Kat Cole, the former President of Cinnabon, John Lewis Gaddis, Professor of Military and Naval History, and Michael Lombardi, Coach of the New England Patriots, on topics ranging from loneliness to locus of control. Come for the learnings, stay for the thoughtful reflection by leaders in conversation with Shane, who is a skillful and patient interviewer.

2. Dare to Lead

Can you even create a leadership recommendations list without Brene Brown? Exactly. Dare to Lead lives up to Brene’s lofty reputation of helping leaders focus on what matters. Two of my favorite conversations were with Dr. Pippa Grange on fearing less and with Emily and Amelia Nagoski on burnout. The burnout podcast single-handedly informed my team’s response to burnout during the pandemic, so I highly recommend starting there.

3. How’s Work? With Esther Perel

Yep, Esther Perel, the renowned couples therapist, takes on the complicated dynamics of work relationships. This podcast includes real counseling sessions with colleagues, collaborators in a family business, and friends turned co-founders. Hearing people talk past one another is a little painful to listen to at times, but provides a great example of how active listening as a leader can help you connect people and mend relationships.

4. Coaching for Leaders

Dr. Dave Stachowiak founded Coaching for Leaders Academy and has more than 20 million downloads of his podcast. What I like about his approach is its practicality-there are episodes on firing someone (always painful), overcoming resistance to new ideas in a team or organization, and how to prepare for conflict. If you’re looking for a place to start, the episode with Tsedal Neeley on engaging remote teams feels very relevant for folks new to running remote or hybrid teams.

5. Brown Table Talk

Women of color are often left behind in narratives about the current and future state of work. Mita Mallick and Dee C. Marshall share personal stories about their experiences as women of color in the workplace, and in doing so provide valuable lessons on how all of us can set the tone on inclusion and belonging, going above and beyond high-level diversity insights to share tangible, actionable tips on making your culture welcoming, inclusive, and rewarding for Black and Brown women.

Every leader intends to read more books and seminars to help them grow and learn, but oftentimes we run out of time and energy because of the increasing demands. Podcasts are a great and easy accompaniment for your car ride, walk, or errand time, and means you can expand your mind on all things DE&I, without expanding your already overwhelming daily list.