Inclusion: Fueling the Strategic Potential of Diversity!

In our group, we create our new normal by challenging the status quo. And we do so by bringing different perspectives together, through securing a diverse team. 

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. 

The Business Benefits

If we successfully build a diverse culture with inclusion and a sense of belonging, the potential upsides to business are many:

  • Companies report a higher pace of innovation as a result of strategic work with diversity and inclusion.
  • Homogeneous groupthink is reduced and thereby is the risk of poor decision making.
  • Setting a safe workplace for employees to voice their opinions allows for different perspectives that will produce critical thinking, creativity, and flexibility in adapting to our ever-changing reality. 
  • Setting a diverse stage with a safe work environment helps to attract the right talent.
  • Furthermore, it can help keep the right talent, reduce turnover cost, impacts wellbeing at work, and can potentially reduce costs tied to sick leave. 
Some Food for Thought

Consider these examples of how neglecting to include different perspectives can affect business in unwanted ways and how it can affect the target customers: 

  • The vision systems of large tech companies were reported to have built-in racial biases by not recognizing all skin types, or even labeling some people as animals. 
  • Women have been reported to experience higher levels of cyber-sickness within virtual environments (VR), because the equipment was developed and tested primarily by men.
  • People struggling with mental health issues reported that they struggled to get help from their physical voice assistants.
  • Female drivers are far more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash because crash test dummies were modeled after the average male in height and weight.

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.

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