What’s it about?

The Inclusion Dividend (2013) demonstrates how diversity and inclusion actually boost any company’s productivity and business success while presenting a guide to transforming your workplace for good.

About the author:

Mark Kaplan is a consultant who has specialized in management since 1986. He holds a master’s degree in HR development and is a prolific writer on diversity in management.

Mason Donovan is a consultant who has contributed his services to most of the Fortune 500 companies. He holds a master’s degree in international business.

Introduction: find out the financial welfare of making inclusion an essential habit in office: 

It’s no secret that too many people get excluded from workplaces just because of their gender, race, or religious beliefs. We view this issue as an ethical problem, but what if it’s a business one? What if the absence of inclusion is bad for your business? The Inclusion Dividend elaborates how being biased and restricted in your choices can affect many sides of your bottom line.

Meritocracy might be seen as the key to a successful business, but numbers say otherwise:

Did you ever put all your effort and time into your work to be the best, only to discover that success doesn’t boil down to hard work? That’s while although meritocracy is based deep into the business world, it may not be the real thing. But first, what is meritocracy?

It is the lifelong belief that hard work will give you the reward that you’ve been longing for. Meritocracy is the basis of the American Dream – the hope that anyone can gain the benefits of a comfortable and accomplished life by putting in a great effort.

If you queried a board member of a Fortune 1000 company whether their organization uses the meritocratic system, they would answer yes. They claim that they always work by the values of hiring, promoting, and keeping employees only on account of their abilities.

Sadly, this doesn’t align with the truth. For example, in the US, nearly half of the population is females. However, a study made in 2010 by Catalyst discovered that women make up only fifteen percent of all the executive jobs at Fortune 500 companies. When females were asked why this is happening, they said it was because of the lack of respect and promotion of their opportunities.

Now that you know that meritocratic systems are not real, the real question is; do you know how bad for a business that is? Consider, for instance, that global corporations pay about eight billion dollars yearly just to foster a more inclusive culture. They don’t do that just to dodge discrimination lawsuits but to gain more profit.

For example, take the companies on Standard’s and Poor’s stock index. They are high-end, profitable companies that were capable of bringing back 89% of their investment in merely the first three years. However, they made it into Working Mother’s 100 top corporations as well. Because of inclusion, they brought a 98% return on every dollar they put in.

“Taller men earn, on average, about $800 more a year per inch of height from five feet seven inches to six foot three inches”

-Mark Donovan and Mason Donovan

Susceptibility can affect your business in a bad way:

Did you ever wonder why didn’t you get that interview? Although your application was much more qualified than your competitors’? You might have been unconsciously biased against.

What is that, you ask? Well, bias is an inclination or prejudice we hold against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. Humans have been biased creatures since forever, and it’s almost impossible to avoid this trait of ours. 

It’s not always a bad thing; it helps you navigate the world while reacting based on instinct. However, while unconsciously thinking something through sounds practical for simple decisions, it can cause real damage, especially if you can’t identify your biases.

This brings us to the unconscious biases – the judgments you hold against others without knowing the reason behind them. For example, an employee might get promoted solely because he attended the same college as his boss. This boss might not be consciously aware of why he made that choice; his brain just unconsciously has a positive association with everything related to his college.

That’s why unconscious biases cause more bad than good, especially in the workplace. In an office, biases don’t just affect your thoughts but your actions as well.

The MIT professor, Sendil Mullainathan, made a study where he sent out five thousand resumes for 1,300 job choices. He wanted to know how a highly-skilled individual’s name affects his chance of getting the job. The applicants of one group had Caucasian names. In contrast, the name of the other group sounded African American. The results were that, generally speaking, the white-sounding applicants had a fifty percent chance of getting an interview. However, they were also more likely to land an interview than better-skilled applicants with African American names. This happens even in companies that are trying actively to diversify.

So, even if your biased choices were not intended, they are letting you miss out on hiring the best employees.

An all-embracing environment generates counterproductive group dynamics:

The majority of people are right-handed, and as one, you rarely think how life would be as a left-handed person. Left-handed people have a hard time dealing with almost every product – from can openers to tape measures. This is just an example, but being unacquainted with common differences you have with others aggravates insider-outsider dynamics.

What is that?

Every team in a company is divided into two insider-outsider groups. Those groups are determined based on many factors like age, sex, your attended college, and even where you grew up. These groupings configure a power dynamic where the members in this insider group dominate the different outsider ones.

For example, a usual insider group in all companies is made of men that attended Ivy League schools. Members of this group get to give orders more often than women or people who didn’t get to go into an Ivy League school.

The problem is that being oblivious to the insider-outsider dynamics can create an unbalanced workplace. Say the women of a company are holding a meeting to brainstorm ideas and develop exceptional ones. However, the men overshadow those ideas with fewer quality ones.

Suppose you cease to function the unbalanced power dynamic in your business. In that case, you will lose brilliant ideas and end your workforce up unsatisfied and unstable. That’s why when you have a strong insider dynamic; you’ll end up with decreased productivity and creativity.

Taking steps to achieve inclusion can make a company more successful and full of diversity:

It’s without a question that the absence of diversity is bad for your firm. However, you can fix that by looking within and beyond your company.

But how? By applying the Inclusion Initiative Phases – IIP model – which is a technique the authors came up with to guarantee a long-term, reliable inclusion in any workplace.

This program is made up of four phases. All combined build a structure any company can use to increase inclusivity and diversity:

Phase one is called Research and Needs Identification: In it, you’ll collect information through employee engagement surveys and interviews to understand your staff better.

Phase two is Strategy Creation: To build a successful strategy, you need potent data – a transparent path for probability – and then a realistic vision for execution. In the best-case scenario, you’ll have a diverse team to supervise this whole process.

Phase three is Execution and Integration: It’s time to apply your strategy in action. The important thing here is to ensure that your employees don’t see what they’re asked to do as a burden.

Phase three is Measurement and Re-calibration: You’ll always have to evaluate the other phases’ successes and how they will process best, specifically phase three. Once you are knowledgeable about the most effective techniques for you, you should upgrade them and let go of the unsuccessful ones.

How would that help you? Well, when you increase inclusivity, the effect won’t just target the office. It impacts the ways you can market your business as well. That’s is simply because customers are the most vital aspect of a company. In a way, customers reflect the companies they deal with.

Inclusion is best when the business leader does it:

Now that you are ready to fill your company with diversity and have a more inclusive environment in your office remember that it will not happen without your personal effort. While inclusion is a team effort, it’s best that it is applied from the top-down. The change should start from the one in charge – the leader.

This is because growth in the modern time means to get as far as a diverse and complex global market. To reach that growth, you should start building relationships with all kinds of people. 

For example, Apple embraced this inclusive dynamic by going in this route. In 1993 the executives of Apple dilated their pre-existing diversity programs by incorporating a supplier diversity initiative. This forced even the company suppliers to adhere to specific diversity standards. In 2011, Apple could bring in the most significant profit per employee than any company in the world. Each employee was producing $400,000 annually. That’s not all; because of the wide range of diversity Apple included in their workplaces, it became one of the world’s most successful brands!

Therefore, a company isn’t capable of such change unless the ones in charge initiate the first step. However, it is a win-win situation. Even leaders will reap big rewards if they take this route. They can even shape the real meritocracy that we all need if they adopt an inclusive style free from the lack of division we live in.