By: Jewel Jackson | Founder/Director, African Soul International

I think we’ve ALL heard about diversity; it has become a buzzword lately. The word “Inclusion” usually follows closely behind it, but they’re very far from being the same thing. Diversity is the company photo that shows faces of various hues and colors, genders and backgrounds. Diversity is important, as:

Companies that have ethnically diverse staff are 35% more likely to yield higher revenue, while gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to yield higher revenue.

A recent Boston Consulting Group study found a strong, statistically significant positive relationship between diversity and corporate innovation (There’s a great TED talk by the authors, add it to your viewing if you are interested in more on this topic.).

Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture a new market audience.

A study published in the American Sociological Review found that companies with the highest percent on racial or gender diversity have higher sales revenue, more customers, and higher than average market share and profitability.

While one would think this is all a company would need to get them focused on diversity, apparently it’s not. In fact:

  • 97% of senior executive boards in the US fail to reflect the country’s labor force and population demographics.
  • As of March 2019, 25 (4.8%) of Fortune 500 CEOs are female (up from 2.4% in 2008). To put this disparity into perspective, that’s barely more than the 4.1% of Fortune 500 CEOs who are named David, and less than the 5.3% named John.
  • Research studies done in New Zealand, Canada, and by the National Bureau of Economic Research have indicated that people with minority names receive fewer opportunities for jobs.
  • Inversely, another study indicated that people with traditional American names, like John or William, enjoy an average of 14% better financial returns.
  • In addition to white men, as of 2018, there are more white women at every stage of the corporate pipeline than men or women of color.
  • $16 billion is lost each year due to unfair treatment of employees and turnover.
  • Compared to every 100 men promoted to a managerial position, only 79% of women are promoted.

Of people who post personal religiously affiliated content on social media, Muslims are 13% less likely to receive a callback for an interview.

  • Only 17.9% of people with a disability were employed in 2016 compared to 65% of people without a disability.
  • Men earn a 6% higher wage when they have a child, whereas women earn 4% less when they have a child.

And this is just in regards to diversity. We haven’t even touched on inclusion yet.

Have you ever been invited to be a part of a group, but got the feeling that your input, voice, ideas, and opinions were not welcomed? Well, that’s an example of what inclusion is NOT. While there are companies, colleges, and universities that espouse love for diversity, the question is whether or not they are open to the voices, opinions, and life experiences of others who don’t share their same background and/or culture.

The U.S. is a mix of myriad cultures, heritages, traditions and other varying factors that not only make us different, but give us opportunities to see how much we’re alike, and help us grow. Whether it’s food such as pizza, tacos, polish boys, etc., or it’s the influence in the language, customs, and cultures, diversity has helped to build the fabric of this country, and it is as important now as it’s ever been.

As you go forward, as our future leaders, I hope that you find it important to not only see others, but listen to them, learn from them, and value them. It’s not only the right thing to do; it can also help your bottom line.