Founder of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Newsletter Caroline Fairchild once said, “Want more men to talk gender diversity? Bring in the bottom line.” Fairchild was onto what makes a winning diversity strategy.
Duke Business School Professor and Forbes Contributor, Dorie Clark, once said, “Diversity, while laudable, isn’t likely to gain much traction in the corporate world as long as it’s viewed as an expense.” Clark was also onto an element that could make or break a winning diversity strategy.
In his book, Building on the Promise of Diversity, diversity pioneer and leader, R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr., implies that success of diversity and inclusion is the result of a process: identifying business goals and identifying, acquiring and including the kind of diversity that is required to fulfill the latter goals.
Based on my observations: my three tips on building a winning diversity strategy include:
- Tie your strategy to the bottom line
- Avoid having your strategy seen as an expense
- Tie your strategy to business objectives
How can you execute on the latter? Here are my three tips:
- Tie your diversity and inclusion strategy to measurable tactics (e.g., reducing retention costs, reducing absenteeism) that equal money to the company. Ask yourself: can I save or make money for the company through my diversity and inclusion efforts? If so, you have a winning strategy.
- Avoid being seen as simply an expense by including the total cost of your efforts and their return on investment (ROI). A winning strategy is one that provides dividends to investors.
- Most importantly, make sure that your diversity and inclusion efforts are tied to the business objectives. It may be that one of those objectives has to do with appeasing a growing community of shareholders who want the company to have a more diverse leadership board, such is the case with Apple.
Last question: how do you get paid on your winning diversity strategy?
If you’re able to do the latter and execute accordingly, your win may come in the shape of:
- MONEY: If you are able to save and make your company money; and also help your company achieve their business goals, then you will have merited a bonus, a promotion, or another financial reward.
- RECOGNITION: Internal and external recognition as a strategic leader in the diversity and inclusion field. There are few, out there, who have the ability to align diversity and inclusion to business objectives, bottom lines, and strategy.
- GOOD FEELINGS: One of the biggest wins in life is to do good and get the “warm fuzzys.” The byproduct of executing on a winning diversity and inclusion strategy will be the feelings of a good-hearted winner.
What are you waiting for? Go build a winning diversity strategy that pays in heart, mind, and wallet. Are you feeling the warm and fuzzys?
About the author: Lolita Taub is a UN Women’s Empower Women Global Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment. For her term, Taub has committed to raise awareness on the topic of diversity & inclusion through a special 6 post blog series.