Diversity is more than a strategy. It’s a philosophy.

By Amy Cosper

Let’s talk people, not charts

Today, March 8, marks International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate women’s achievements while calling out inequalities. We’ve come a long way since my mom burned her bra in the sixties, but we still have a long, long road ahead. Diversity and inclusion are topics that should be top of mind for all business leaders.

If you hop on the Google machine and do a quick search for “business impact of diversity and inclusion,” it doesn’t take long to find a vast array of scholarly research and articles on the topic. In a Deloitte survey, 83% of millennials reported higher levels of engagement when they believe their company fosters an inclusive climate. Gartner predicts that through 2022, 75% of companies with diverse and inclusive decision-making teams will exceed their financial targets. And in 2018, Boston Consulting Group reported that companies with more diverse leadership teams experienced higher innovation revenue. Not sure how one measures innovation, but we’ll roll with it.

Diversity and inclusion are topics that have anchored many a research thesis, obviously. And have sparked fierce debates in boardrooms. Here’s the thing:  Numbers are great. Numbers are science. Numbers tell a story. Numbers are useful and make for handy slides in presentations in a boardroom.

On a human level, what do these numbers mean? What do they stand for? Theoretically, they stand for people, actual human beings doing the work and creating diversity. But numbers and research can lead to labels. People don’t like labels.

For years, I’ve been labeled a female editor, not out of any disregard or disrespect. It’s just a thing other humans do. While technically it is true that I am a female editor, I am really just an editor.

I was riding my Ducati once. Well, speeding more than riding and I got pulled over. It happens. I took off my helmet and the cop said “Oh. You’re a girl rider. I’ll give you a warning, but you need to slow down.” He was giving me special treatment! I got into a thing with him because I wanted that ticket. I wanted to be treated like a rider who was speeding, not some girl rider. Eventually, he did give me a ticket. I think he wanted to be done with me. But I made my point. Probably not my smartest move. But I did not want to be labeled. Point made, even though I was dumb to beg for a ticket.

On the math and science side, there are many gains that must be made for true diversity to happen. Women and other diverse groups still experience inequities and inequalities. Women have far less access to capital, and many family-owned businesses are still trying to create diverse boards. Women still make up a small percentage of CEOs and board members in the family business ecosystem. This needs to change. Not because the research says so, but because it’s for the greater good of your organization and the greater good of this planet. Diversity has the power to transform your boardroom and your organization. Make it your philosophy, not your spreadsheet requirement. Greatness is greatness. No label required.


Amy Cosper

Twitter me @AmyCCosper

Well. You’re still quiet out there. What are your thoughts about diversity and inclusion? Let me know. What’s your story, anyway? We’d love to run your responses. Send them here: amy.cosper@familybusinessmagazine.com

PS: Family Business Magazine is committed to organizational transformation through diversity and inclusion. We’re launching a new virtual conference, “Transformational Women.” Check it out right here https://women.familybusinessmagazine.com/

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