Romer: Inclusivity as a competitive advantage
What exactly is inclusion from a business standpoint? Inclusion refers to creating a work environment where all people are truly welcomed, valued, and respected — for all of who they are — regardless of differences. Inclusion isn’t the same as tolerance. It’s not about putting up with people who are different, but rather is about full acceptance.
In an inclusive environment, people won’t feel that they need to hide part of their true selves to truly belong. When employees feel a true sense of belonging, and they’re able to bring their whole selves to work, they’re more likely to bring more to the work they’re producing and feel more fulfilled in the process — which benefits everyone involved.
It’s not just the right thing to do — embracing inclusion is a competitive advantage. Inclusion in the workplace is extremely important for any organization looking to build a strong sense of connection and belonging and an engaging culture. To thrive, companies need to unlock the power and potential of their employee’s talent, including women, people of different races, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses, and those with different physical and cognitive abilities.
In other words, they need inclusion. Organizations that get it right are at a huge advantage. Research shows that diverse and inclusive organizations, when compared to their peers, are:
- 87% more likely to make better decisions, according to Korn Ferry Research
- 75% faster at bringing products to market, according to the Center for Talent Innovation
Worldwide consulting leader Deloitte has helped shed a spotlight on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Their research has shown that “A growing body of research indicates that diverse and inclusive teams outperform their peers. Companies with inclusive talent practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership and team management generate up to 30 percent higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors. Without a strong culture of inclusion and flexibility, the team-centric model comprising diverse individuals may not perform well.”
Inclusion in the workplace is now a vital component of business success. Diversity and inclusion now impact brand, corporate purpose and performance. Not only is the public increasingly aware of the issue (witness the scrutiny of gender and racial diversity in the technology industry), but employees are also expressing stronger views on diversity and inclusion. Millennials, for example, see inclusion as a mandatory part of corporate culture, defining how the company listens to them at work. Shareholders, customers, and suppliers are all taking a closer look at this issue.
It is not just consultants who espouse the value of inclusivity in business. Leading businesses such as Proctor & Gamble also recognize the importance. Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer with Procter & Gamble in a Forbes interview, said “I think that the 5 billion people in the world who we serve are looking around and saying, ‘We need to make sure that we leave this world in a better place,’ and that has to come from the everyday household and personal care products that we use as well. So, we made a very deliberate decision to build things like sustainability and equality and inclusion into the business to make it part of how brands grow and part of the business model.”
The case is clear: Diversity and inclusion increase company performance in nearly every metric that matters. Getting it right puts you at a significant competitive advantage.
To survive and thrive in the future, organizations need to do more than simply diversify their talent pools. They also need to design inclusive workplaces that meet the needs of all their employees and enable everyone in the organization to achieve their full potential.
Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.