11/05/2013 08:46 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Bill de Blasio and the Diversity Dividend

Dante's Afro is only the starter. We soak up Chiara's teenage panache (pink roses and a nose piercing teamed up with the world's most radiant smile) and Chirlane's spunky authenticity -- after all, how many African-American political wives wear their hair "au naturel" and talk easily about having been a lesbian?

And we're thrilled that this extraordinary family is also ordinary in where they live (a comfy, row house in Brooklyn with three bedrooms and one bath) and how they relate to one another with unscripted affection and support.

But de Blasio's 45 percent lead in the polls is based on more than image.

Analysts talk about how de Blasio's empathy rivals that of another big Bill (Clinton) and point out that half the likely voters in New York's upcoming mayoral election see "his greatest strength as his ability to understand the needs and problems of people like them." The polls show that even New York's Republicans are fed up with being led by a plutocrat who golfs in the Bahamas and doesn't even live in Gracie Mansion because he has a much more splendid Upper East Side mansion.

Is there something deeper going on here than class antagonisms?

We think there is.

You see it's not just the "have nots" who are supporting de Blasio. The "haves" -- professionals, business owners large and small -- are coming out in droves too.

The message from the masses: New Yorkers are ready for an inclusive politician -- not just because he/she will tackle de Blasio's healing social agenda (increasing income equality, expanding affordable housing, establishing universal pre-school) but because they believe that inclusion is good for prosperity and growth.

There's a great deal of evidence already from the business world.

New research from the Center for Talent Innovation, a New York think tank, makes the link between inclusion, innovation and market growth. Corporate leaders have long recognized that an inherently diverse workforce -- one that's inclusive of women, people of color and gay individuals - confers a competitive edge. Not only are diverse individuals better attuned to the unmet needs of consumers or clients like themselves, but their insight is critical to identifying and addressing new market opportunities. CTI data shows that when teams have one or more members who represent the gender, ethnicity, culture, generation, or sexual orientation of the team's target end user, the entire team is as much as 158 percent more likely to understand that target, increasing their likelihood of effectively serving that end user.

There's no doubt that New York City -- described in the words of former mayor David Dinkins as a "gorgeous mosaic" -- has diversity to spare, not just among its residents but the multitude of people working in the Mayor's office and city agencies. But what really galvanizes that diversity into innovative ideas that are developed and deployed are inclusive leaders. Leaders whose background and experience has conferred on them an appreciation for difference, whether that difference is rooted in gender, age, culture, socioeconomic background, nationality or sexual orientation, are significantly more likely to behave inclusively than leaders who lack it.

Combine those two dynamos -- a diverse workforce and leadership that understands, encourages and endorses difference -- and the result is an organization measurably more innovative. More dramatically, there's a robust correlation between highly innovative, diverse organizations and market growth.

Human flourishing, job creation and ebullient growth. Now that's a winning ticket.