We have all heard this many times over – the world is more connected than ever, and business does not know boundaries anymore. Policies might slow down trade temporarily, but the ultimate goal of every company is to expand and continuously discover new consumers for their products and services. There are hundreds of studies that show diversity and inclusion in the workplace has a direct correlation to profit margins. What is it about diversity and inclusion that generates more revenue for companies and what is the correlation between diversity and inclusion and globalization? Why should companies care?
Our challenge today is that the dialog on diversity and inclusion is discussed as if companies should diversify only because “it’s the right thing to do.” When you look at the slot-speed move towards any real change, you realize that either the ‘feel good’ message has fallen on the C-Suite’s deaf ears or the message and conversation is not resonating with the company’s stakeholders and shareholders. What we all have to remember is that at the end of the day, businesses care about profit margins more than they care about feeling good about themselves. What is the solution then? The solution is to change the narrative – change how we discuss the value and benefits of diversifying our workforce; change how we discuss the importance of being inclusive in companies research and development, innovation labs, and in strategic business planning – the very future of business existence.
Take any organization or business today and try this simple experiment. Open the company’s website and look at their leadership team. Do you, as the consumer of that company’s product or service see yourself represented on the leadership panel? Do you as a consumer – the one with the power – believe that the leadership team pictured on the company’s website understands you, your community, your collective stories? Do you have confidence in the leadership team’s ability to speak up for you when it comes to product improvement? Will this company, in the long run continue to advocate for your needs?
Now, let’s look at the consumer base from a company leadership perspective. As leaders and good stewards of the company with the responsibility to increase profits for your shareholders, when you look out at your clients, what do you see? Do you see a homogenous group of consumers and is that sufficient for your company’s long-term survival and growth? The demographics are changing fast and as a company, if your survival and growth depends on new consumers, the answer is simple. In order to grow, if you will have to find consumers beyond your borders, let us be the first to point out – the safest and least risky way to build and structure your company to capture the growing consumer markets outside your borders is to start at home first. Demonstrate that your company has the ability to design solutions – products and services that can meet the needs of our increasingly diverse population – right within your home market. And you can only do that if your strategic thinkers, designers, builders, and your workforce can represent and relate to the consumers you want to capture.
If all you do as a business is think selfishly and commit to capturing every potential customer out there, then you will reflect on your own team and see that in order to understand the needs and wants of your customers, you need a diverse workforce and an equally diverse leadership team to come together and develop solutions that are not just relevant but essential to your company’s survival in this global marketplace. Start the conversation about diversity and inclusion, not because it feels good, but because it is quintessential for your business survival and growth.