As a female business owner, I have always been aware of the need to secure a “seat at the table.” In a business that historically has been male-dominated, it is important that I assert myself, make my voice heard, and be a part of the group that makes decisions. As I have gotten older and more established in my career, I recognize that it is not only important that I advocate for my own seat at the table, but I must also invite others to join me.
In business, we often talk about the need for a diverse workplace. A diverse workforce encourages innovation, creativity, and productivity. Data shows that diversity increases the bottom line and gives you better insight into your customers. Business leaders also have the opportunity to create equitable opportunities and dismantle historical systems that may discriminate. Focusing on diversity is simply the right thing to do.
But creating a diversity program is just one piece of the puzzle. A diverse workplace only thrives if there is true inclusion. Diversity refers to the similarities and differences among people, such as gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and religion. Inclusion unleashes the power of diversity through a culture where people are comfortable to be themselves. People want to feel that they are treated with respect and that they are valuable members of the group. Diversity is inviting people to the table, and inclusion is involving everyone in the conversation.
Deloitte conducted research onthe effect of diversity and inclusion on three factors of business performance: customer service, innovation, and team collaboration. When both diversity and inclusion were high, Deloitte identified an 80% increase in business performance. Even when there was high diversity and low inclusion or high inclusion and low diversity, the business outcomes were not as impressive. Both factors were necessary for creating such remarkable results.
Another study by Deloittefocused on how different generations view inclusion in the workplace. Out of 1,300 surveyed, 80% of all respondents reported that inclusion was important in choosing an employer. 39% stated they would leave their current employer for a more inclusive organization. Inclusivity is even more valued by millennials, with over 50% reporting they would leave their current organization for a more inclusive one. Millennials are more likely to job hop, and their turnover costs the U.S. economy approximately $30.5 billion annually. Numbers like that are enough incentive for all businesses to focus on diversity and inclusivity.
Creating an environment where everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued is a morally sound and financially smart business decision. It encourages space for people to be heard and new ideas to be fostered. Diversity and inclusion are good for business.
Senior business leaders must make this a priority and establish diverse hiring practices, training programs, and a climate where all voices are heard. It is time for everyone to not only join the table but to also be an important part of the conversation.
Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for more than 20 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs.
Lee Yarborough and her father, Braxton Cutchin, founded the company in 1996. She has served on the Board of Directors of NAPEO and currently serves as the Chair for the NAPEO Carolinas Leadership Council. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Lee also serves on the Executive Board of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.