Diversity Tactics Don’t Scale — An Inclusive Culture Does

scaling an inclusive culture

Diversity tactics don’t scale but an inclusive culture does.

What does that mean?

When the focus on building diversity is only driven from compliance initiatives such as establishing pay equity and ensuring fair people practices, the efforts are tactical in nature and therefore, require continuous effort to sustain. If the tactical efforts subside, results do as well and it is hard to build momentum and buy-in across the organization.

In comparison, sponsoring a business strategy of making better decisions by fusing disparate points of view results in an inclusive culture that grows organically. A business strategy that encourages people to bring different perspectives into brainstorming sessions results in decisions that are more successful than those reflecting a singular viewpoint. And, the easiest way to bring different perspectives to brainstorming is to have a diverse team.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Great Leaders Who Make the Mix Work, several CEOs emphasized the advantage of diverse teams. In that article, Paul Block of the U.S. sweetener manufacturer Merisant pointed out, “People with different lifestyles and different backgrounds challenge each other more. Diversity creates dissent, and you need that. Without it, you’re not going to get any deep inquiry or breakthroughs.” It’s that dissent and fusion of different perspectives and life experiences which create stronger outcomes as evidenced by McKinsey’s study which shows the most diverse teams outperform the least diverse teams by 14% in earnings before taxes (EBITA).

Once people see the ROI of even one good business decision stemming from a diverse team, there’s personal motivation to replicate that dynamic because everyone wants to be successful. So when you begin with a strategy of making better decisions by fusing different perspectives into the brainstorming process, people at all organizational levels will start naturally checking the table to ensure the group is sufficiently diverse to benefit from competing and different perspectives. With this type of personal benefit at stake, the whole workforce culture starts to shift to be more inclusive naturally. Ultimately, it’s the focus on the business strategy, not just diversity tactics, that creates and scales an inclusive culture.