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The Business Case for Diversity: Are We Asking the Right Question?

For some time, there has been a question floating around: What is the business case for creating a diverse organization?
But after reading this recent Harvard Business Review article (linked below), a new question presented itself to me: Are leaders willing to make an ongoing commitment to change in their organizations that will actually invite and cultivate diversity, equality and inclusion?
There is a big difference between the “add diversity and stir” method and actually creating and maintaining a culture that engages and retains diverse voices. The former is often mistaken for being all it takes to have a diverse organizational culture but it’s really the latter that has the possibility of achieving what many try to do. It takes a lot more work, but the benefits extend much further than simply creating diversity.


Leaders must acknowledge that increasing demographic diversity does not, by itself, increase effectiveness; what matters is how an organization harnesses diversity, and whether it’s willing to reshape its power structure.  (HBR article, linked below)
Here are just a few ways that organizations can start to do the big work of creating a diverse culture, not just a diverse roster:

  • Start open conversations where there is no agenda or goal. Make space day-to-day for conversations that are simply for people in your organization to share their experiences, whether personal or about their work, that can lead to greater connection between and appreciation for the different voices in the group.
  • Investigate the ways that default behaviors or systems might be inadvertently working against some groups in an organization. Are some people proactively offered coaching or mentoring while others have to ask or advocate for themselves? Do some people get second chance to prove themselves after a mistake when others are written off immediately?
  • Keep investing in your own personal growth. There is no shortage of content that is designed to push your developmental edges, whether it’s around understanding systemic racism and engaging in dialogue on the topic, or setting and holding boundaries for yourself – or anything else, really.  Ask for recommendations and find a book, a webinar, or a coach that can help you lean into your developmental edge instead of skirting around it and never peeking over it. You’d be surprised at how great the view is right up on that edge.

Share with us how you or your organization are working to create a diverse culture!
More reading:
Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case:

Author: Alene Gabriel


Guest Contributor and All Around Good Person. Founder of Blue Sky Coaching.