In the last few weeks, I have been asked by professionals at several different corporations, “Carla when people ask you to make the case for diversity and inclusion, what do you say”?
It is interesting to me that here we are almost 25 years since corporations have been using the word, ‘diversity’ and almost 10 years since the word ‘inclusion’ has been added to the phrase, yet we still seem to be struggling with the “business case” for diversity and inclusion. Sometimes I feel like somehow we have added a LOT of weight to those words and they are words that create a bit of a barrier in a conversation and/or add a level of seriousness and expectations among the participants in the conversation. I almost wish we could call the conversation and the effort to have diverse voices in leadership, in the decision making room, in the board room, something different. But, since this is what we have, as we always do, let’s use what we have.
My business case for diversity and inclusion? If you are in a business where one of your key competitive parameters is innovation (which is the case for every industry vertical that I can think of), then in order to get to the BEST idea and win on innovation, you will need different ideas in the room because innovation is born from ideas. In order to get different ideas in the room, you will need different perspectives because ideas are born from perspectives. And in order to get different perspectives, you will need different experiences in the room, because perspectives are born from experiences and finally, in order to get different experiences in your idea generating room, you will need different people in the room, because experiences are created by people. You need people who are different from one another with respect to how they look, where they come from and in how and where they have been educated, people who have been exposed to different kinds of experiences: DIVERSE PEOPLE. Thus, in order to obtain and retain a leadership position that is driven by innovation you will NEED diverse people. Without a diverse group of people, you cannot innovate, and if you can’t innovate, you can’t compete. THAT is the business case for diversity. Perhaps, it is just that simple.
Read more of Carla’s Pearls in her new book, Strategize to Win, available for pre-order now: