Diversity should be key to any business model. It sets the stage for different perspectives, valuable input, and a chance at building that much needed competitive advantage. But diversity alone does not make a company successful. For that, we also need inclusion.
Inclusion is how we allow that diverse team to thrive, to grow, to contribute. It's about building a work environment where everyone feels safe to be their true self. And it's not built in a heartbeat.
If we successfully build a diverse culture with inclusion and a sense of belonging, the potential upsides to business are many:
Consider these examples of how neglecting to include different perspectives can affect business in unwanted ways and how it can affect the target customers:
We’ve all heard of these or similar examples. Or how the message of a marketing campaign can bear a totally different meaning in one country than another.
However, if we focus on having a diverse workforce, we are better equipped to avoid such mistakes. If we also have an inclusive company culture, we’re likely to have valuable people on our team who will be able to and who will dare to ask the right questions, challenge the proposed ideas or provide useful insights before similar glitches happen.
We are all going to make mistakes. Even those of us who are best at asking for input will make them. But if we continue to challenge each other and to remind ourselves and those around us about the strengths of allowing and respecting different perspectives, we will all benefit from it.
Originally published September 2020. Updated February 2021.