“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
In light of recent events, corporate America has an opportunity to embrace the inclusivity that their customers crave. However, companies need to be thinking and acting on diversity and inclusion all of the time, not only because of customer values, but because it makes good business sense:
- Gender-diverse companies are 15% and ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers.
- Companies with more women on their boards outperform their peers over a long period of time.
- Inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team-based assessments.
Cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture is a win-win for companies. Diversity and inclusion drive innovation through:
- Employee Resource Groups: Based on the company’s internal LGTB Employee Resource Groups, Clorox’s Burt’s Bees® launched its first LGTB-targeted product. Miriam Lewis, Principal Consultant, HR, noted that “inclusion equals innovation.”
Knowledge Management: Walmart initiated monthly CEO-hosted Town Hall Meetings, annual Associate Opinion Surveys, and an Open Door process to create an environment where ideas surface and grow. These actions resulted in direct business strategies with:
- Money Center: Walmart offers millions of unbanked and underserved customers a series of low-cost financial services through in-store Money Centers (check cashing, bill payments, money transfers, MoneyCard, etc.).
- Direct Farm: a global program focused on driving agricultural sustainability. In 2010, Walmart China engaged more than 470,000 farmers in the Direct Farm program. The company endeavors to reduce produce waste by 15 percent while upgrading 15 percent of Direct Farm program products from Green to Organic certified.
- Diverse Employee Perspectives: At L’Oréal USA, Balanda Atis, a group leader in research and innovation, initiated a project to explore problems non-Caucasian women face. “As a woman with darker skin, I have always had a difficult time in trying to find a shade of foundation that was appropriate for my skin tone. Furthermore, I know that this is a concern for consumers.” Her team conducted a series of interviews nationally with women and measured skin tones. Atis and a team of scientists demonstrated scientifically that women of color have specific needs giving the company a competitive advantage leading to Mizani, a L’Oréal brand that targets women of color.
Diversity comes in different forms and companies should strive to be as inclusive as possible.
How do the arts play into this? The arts make up a significant percentage of how humans communicate with each other and see each other. As such, diversity training is simply learning to be more conscious of how you communicate with and perceive others. Using music, dance, story-telling, literature, and other forms of expression are powerful ways to learn about expression. Honing in, expanding upon, and polishing off how you see other people within the world around you. Becoming aware of others’ mode of operating is essential to our own success. Understanding our similarities and our differences is the foundation on which one builds healthy relationships. To use the arts to gain broader consciousness is a meaningful pursuit.
At limeSHIFT, our workshops are designed to serve the workforce of the future. We use innovative art practices and creative facilitation to activate different parts of your brain. In our diversity trainings, we work with companies looking to recruit, empower, and retain top talent across gender, race, and culture. limeSHIFT’s behavior-based Diversity Training is a hands-on, interactive, role-playing experience that uses art-making and spatial awareness to build diverse, cohesive teams; promote collaboration; and build healthy, empathetic relationships.
Steve Jobs said, “The source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things … it is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination and our faith in the future.” Let’s cultivate that and create better businesses in the process.