You hear the words diversity and inclusion more these days than ever before, and there’s a reason for it. It’s important to acknowledge, and for any business, it’s an absolute imperative.

According to HR consultant Jennifer Brown, author of Inclusion: Diversity, the New Workplace, and the Will to Change, “Diversity is the who and the what: who’s sitting around that table, who is being recruited, who is being promoted, who we are tracking from the traditional characteristics and identities of gender and ethnicity, and sexual orientation and disability—inherent diversity characteristics that we’re born with.” But, “Inclusion, on the other hand, is the “how.” Inclusion is the behaviors that welcome and embrace diversity. If you are a great leader for inclusion, you have figured out how to embrace and galvanize diversity of voices and identities.”

You need both: the what and the how, diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion open equal opportunities for everyone. Companies that welcome diversity gain a higher market share and a competitive edge when it comes to entering new markets. According to the 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, “85% of the CEOs surveyed whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy said it’s improved their bottom line.”

Today, if you’re not managing or including diversity, you will most likely fall behind. Most businesses are taking this into account because they know that not only will it drive their future success but also bring in new perspectives and ideas.

When you’re running a business, you need people who think differently, have experienced differently, and are different. This allows your company to grow and become more innovative because you’re learning from a view other than your own.

Working with people from various backgrounds, allows for a versatility in working styles, which brings in diverse views. Ultimately, these views help make informed business decisions.

For instance, take gender equality. “Women account for 60% of college graduates but only 3% of leaders worldwide. Women and girls also represent two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population.” Can you imagine what the economic growth would be like if we took in the majority of our population and used their skills and talents to better our businesses? This would plug the talent gap for businesses, and would undoubtedly better our economy and have a positive social impact.

Of course, this is easier said than done and don’t we know it. For this to work and happen, we all need to hold ourselves accountable. It’s easy to offer the job to someone who looks like you, thinks like you, and probably has similar experiences. But, that’s not what you need. You need the difference and the range in standpoints to grow.

For a business to incorporate diversity, they first must acknowledge their lack of it or how they can become more inclusive. This doesn’t just take the CEO or the manager, it takes everyone in every department.

As Brown states in her book, “think about the ripple effects of your embracing of diversity and inclusion in your corporate value statement, in your mission statement, in your policy, even if you’re a small company. You can make the difference in that sales meeting, in that strategic partnership; you may find people will gravitate to you because you have included this as a core value.”

At Chameleon, we believe that diversity isn’t a destination that we must reach so we can check a box that says, yes, we’re diverse. But, instead, it’s a means to a more inclusive and effective workplace.

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