Executive Education

Inspire Workplace Diversity & Inclusion with These 3 Tips

Creating a more culturally and gender-diverse workplace has been proven by McKinsey, Gallup and numerous companies around the world to improve business success. Still, many struggle to overcome gaps in gender and ethnic diversity when it comes to hiring and leadership cultivation and promotion.

But, building a strong, inclusive leadership team is more than just filling a quota and checking the right boxes. Diversity isn’t just about gender and ethnicity. It also involves creating the right blend of strengths and weaknesses, skillsets and personalities. It means being inclusive of introverts and extroverts, technical types and creatives, communicators and analytics, various lifestyles, visionaries, realists, optimists and pessimists.

As a CEO, this varied skillset and perspective ensures that you make the smartest decisions and build a great employee culture that attracts and retains top talent—both of which contribute to running the most successful business possible. To get there, here are three tips for inspiring your team to build diversity and inclusion into your workplace at every opportunity.

1) Better business decisions drive a positive bottom line impact.

Building a diverse team has proven to help organizations make better decisions faster that yield better results. How? It ensures that you approach a problem from a 360-degree perspective, giving you the ability to consider different options and the risks and benefits of each from various points of view. It’s human nature to view things from your own experience and cultural lens, so a homogenous team may leave out major considerations that are important to others outside that sphere. This also supports the golden rule of hiring to your weaknesses. As a CEO, one of the smartest moves is to hire those who fill gaps in your own skillset, which helps you to cover all bases. This diverse perspective can help drive profitability by uncovering more revenue opportunities and creative ways to streamline costs.

2) Diversity improves talent acquisition and retention.

Building a diverse team will create a culture that attracts varied talent and retains top performers. This helps your organization to be more competitive in recruiting potential candidates when they can see diversity in action, within the leadership team and beyond. It helps them to recognize a culture of inclusion and know that they’ll fit in among a tapestry of genders, cultures, talent and lifestyles.

This applies to work/life balance, too. In many companies, executives are workaholics who devote their entire lives to the company, but it can be refreshingly inspiring for employees to see leaders working to balance the same challenges they do. As one employee attested: “I have never experienced the diversity I see here in any other company I have worked for. I have a male CEO and a male SVP of Sales who are both trying to leave at 5 p.m. for kid bath duty or dinner duty, and then I have three female executives who appear to be killing it as executives and as moms. It’s just been really inspirational for me.”

One C-level executive even told us that it was a deciding factor in her decision to come to work for the company: “There were many factors—great board, great tech company, great culture. But, what put the decision over the goal line was this was the first CEO in my 27-year career who has a dual-income family status. It made him more relatable to many employees who have the same challenge of work-life integration,” she said. “It was a defining career moment for me when he had to leave our meeting to take care of the kids because his wife was out of town on business. My kids are older and independent, and I have a newfound freedom and flexibility to work early and stay late, so it was literally a reversed-role moment that was thrilling to experience.”

3) Diversity ensures better customer service.

Because a diverse team is likely more reflective of your customer base, your product, your marketing and your service delivery will be more relatable to your audience. From a customer interaction perspective, employee diversity gives you more options to align the right staff personalities with the right customers and partners, helping you develop deeper understanding of their needs to serve them better.

Infusing diversity and inclusion into the workplace is an absolute necessity for business success in today’s competitive market. Faced with a looming talent shortage, companies must make every effort to create the most attractive corporate culture in which employees of every perspective and persuasion feel welcome and valued. By designing diversity initiatives with these three critical factors in mind, your organization can inspire leaders at all levels to consider diversity in their hiring, placement and promotion strategies.

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Jeff Stone
Jeff Stone, also known as Jeffrey, provides business leadership as the CEO of Compeat – focused on strategic direction, team performance, a superior customer experience, and continuous company growth. He has worked extensively with the private equity and broader investment community in a range of portfolio company situations. Jeff earned his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and holds an undergraduate degree in business with a concentration in hospitality management from the University of New Hampshire.