Written by: Isabella LeBlanc, Summer Intern
What would happen if women owned 50 percent of all Arizona businesses? According to a study completed by Empowered PhXX, over $102 billion would be added to the state gross product, meaning more money circulating through our local economy. And who doesn’t want that kind of extra money in their pocket?
Diversity impacts everything from the innovations we make to the profit your business generates. And companies who prioritize racial, ethnic, and gender diversity are consistently more profitable than those who don’t.
So, how can we, as local business leaders, nurture diversity in Arizona’s business community?
Our Diversity Dilemma
Are you at work? How many of your coworkers reflect you in gender, race, and sexual orientation? Chances are a good deal.
The recent census shows that the face of Arizona businesses fails to mirror the face of Arizona itself. For example, where 49.7 percent of Arizona’s population is male, a disproportionate 64.5 percent of all Arizona business owners are male. And within many of these businesses, the teams don’t reflect our state any better.
But what does this mean for your business?
According to Dan Tyre, startup connoisseur at HubSpot, it means your team might be standing in the way of your business’s profits, growth, and success. Tyre asserts, “if you’re trying to sell to women and individuals of color, you should have women and individuals of color on your sales team.”
Generating sales comes from demonstrating empathy for your customers. But empathy can’t happen without understanding. When your team doesn’t reflect your customer base, chances are your team doesn’t fully understand your customer’s needs, pain points, or desires. Teresa Marzolph, the #ladyboss behind Culture Engineered, adds that “diversity is always a difference in perception and thought.”
By purposefully implementing diversity into your team, you improve the connection you have with your customers. Teams with members who share the client’s ethnicity, gender, perspectives, or experiences are 152 percent more likely to interpret the client’s needs correctly, and therefore, close more deals.
Devote Your Business To Diversity
Seriously, your business can stand to gain millions (yes, millions) from inclusive hiring. The diversity of your business is like a crystal ball for sales revenue, customer satisfaction, and profitability. The more diversity your business has, the more you have of the rest. Here’s how:
Diversity’s Biggest Advocate: The Numbers
Over the next two years, there will be over one million sales jobs lost, making the optimization of your teams more critical than ever. One prevention you can take now to protect your business is to nurture a culture of diversity and inclusion.
The proof is in the numbers! Companies that foster an inclusive culture produce over 15 times the sales revenue than their non-diverse competition. That means hiring diverse candidates and implementing anti-discrimination policies improves your sales and helps ensure your business’s future.
For every one percent increase in racial diversity relative to the demographics of the population, your sales revenue will increase by nine percent. And doing the same with gender diversity will increase your sales revenues by three percent.
Inclusion Sparks Innovation
For Arizona to continue to lead innovation, we need everyone in our community to be represented and heard. When women, minorities, and children from low-income areas have equitable access to resources and opportunities, the rate of innovation quadruples.
But how does this translate to your business? By implementing a comprehensive inclusion policy alone, you are 1.7 times more likely to lead your respective industry.
5 Ways To Nurture True Diversity
The key to ensuring that your business succeeds is to nurture true diversity. Marzolph notes that “embracing true diversity is to appreciate differences in others, understanding that varying perceptions within a team make that team stronger.” This means not simplifying diversity to surface level attributes, but valuing each individual’s unique perceptions and experiences.
Teams who empower true diversity produce 20 percent more innovations and reduce potential risks by 30 percent.
Here are five ways that Tyre and Marzolph nurture true diversity at their companies:
- Ask Yourself: How can I create a workplace in which people feel empowered to be themselves?
- Match Entrepreneurship With Intrapreneurship: Intrapreneurship is the practice of fracturing internal biases and cultural norms to properly select a diverse team of innovators for your projects, goals, and business model.
- Diversify Your Network: When you surround yourself with diversity, you expose yourself to more creative and professional input while nurturing innovations.
- Change Bystanders Into Upstanders: Educate your team on discrimination and encourage team members to speak up when they witness workplace discrimination
- Train For Inclusion: Employ individuals who recruit diverse candidates, provide transparency, and actively respond to suggestions that will increase inclusivity.
The ultimate goal of conversations about increasing diversity and inclusion is to foster a community of business leaders that support each other, flourish together, and help to build a better Arizona. And this conversation starts within your business.
The more you encourage a culture driven by diversity and inclusivity, the more productive, profitable, and pioneering your business will become. And remember, no matter how diverse your business is currently, intentional actions set the foundation for a more inclusive and profitable future.