Our mantra that “inclusion is a business imperative” is an important one.
Many times the argument is made that being inclusive of others is simply the right thing to do if you’re a moral human being. In terms of business, though, the appeal to morals and values isn’t always an effective one. Because most businesses need to make a profit, efforts to build diversity and inclusion need to address one fundamental question: how can diversity and inclusion increase my company’s bottom line?
The answer is that your employees will be more likely to work hard for your company if you value them for who they are, regardless of their gender, race, religion and/or sexual orientation. Hard work and a great work ethic can be found in any employee, regardless of their differences. Beyond loyal commitment from employees whose views are sought and considered, with a wide range of varied ideas being brought forward, your company is also likely to benefit from new product and service ideas, innovation and breakthrough thinking. There’s no more direct impact on the bottom line!
In Dorie Clark’s Forbesarticle “Making the Business Case for Diversity,” she introduces us to a remarkable man named Todd Sears, the founder of Out on the Street, a private consulting organization. His organization is dedicated to increasing business and leadership opportunities for those who are part of the LGBT community.
Because he dealt with a homophobic boss early in his career, Sears understands that inclusive companies are crucial for minorities in finding professional success. As for that one question, Sears knows he needs to answer it in order to get businesses to become members of this organization; they need to know how diversity will help their business thrive.
“’…[C]orporations are for-profit entities, and they’ll only do the ‘right thing to do’ when they’re flush with cash,’” says Sears. “’But they’ll [always] do the right thing…if it’s core to their business. So if you make LGBT inclusion, or inclusion of women or people of color, core to something that’s business-relevant, then they’ll always do it.’”
In other words, the argument that including diversity “is the right thing to do” isn’t enough. Although businesses should care about social justice and including others, attaching a business incentive to diversity will make the need for inclusion stick with them much more strongly than the “it’s the right thing to do” ideology.
The business incentive for being inclusive of diversity is simple:
if you’re an inclusive leader and show your employees that you value them for who they are (and embrace their diverse backgrounds!), they’re going to want to work for you. They will feel comfortable suggesting ideas for new products and services that could set your company apart from competitors. Being inclusive of others will inevitably lead to a healthier, more positive work environment and culture. If your employees feel safe coming to work, they will be able to perform the tasks you ask them to do.
The business case for diversity is this– being inclusive of diversity is simply good for growing your business and good for doing business.
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