Think Inclusive from the Start | NAWBO

The positive impacts of diversity and inclusion (D&I) are clear and run deep. In fact, we’ve experienced them first-hand here at NAWBO within our membership and leadership, and as a result, have set the strategic goal nationally of being broadly recognized as the most inclusive and diverse organization for women entrepreneurs by 2025.

Here’s why:

  • Diverse organizations enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. (Deloitte)
  • Inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30% in high-diversity environments. (Gartner)
  • Companies with diverse management teams have a 19 percent increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts. (BCG)

And here’s some good news for small business owners: You are better poised to create a diverse and inclusive team than bigger businesses—as long as you start early by:

Educating on why it’s important. Begin by making a commitment and making sure everyone understands how much we all benefit from having different thoughts, backgrounds and perspectives at the table. It’s about understanding that diversity is a competitive advantage rather than something you do just because it’s the right thing.

Not doing too much too fast. A potential pitfall when starting out is trying to do too much too fast without a culture of “practice what you preach” in place. Begin with one or two measurable initiatives that promote diversity and awareness. Implementing too many programs at once can be overwhelming and miss the intent.

Encouraging individuality. D&I is not just a recruiting issue. You need to first ensure you have an inclusive culture that embraces an openness of views, backgrounds and experiences. Encourage employees to be themselves, and then celebrate them for who they are. Allow them to lead and put into focus things that matter to them.

Having a diversity recruiting strategy. Now that you have an internal culture of inclusion, you want to infuse D&I into your recruiting strategy. A few things to consider: Prep to make sure you are looking for the right things and checking your bias at the door. Consider implementing “blind resumes” that exclude things like name and school to avoid bias in the earliest hiring stages. 

Understanding the power of branding. D&I is also an important part of your employer brand. When candidates consider your company, the ultimate question they ask is, “Do I fit in there?” Frankly, it’s hard to answer “yes” to this question when they see no one like themselves when doing research on your company.

Lastly, don’t expect change or perfection overnight. Efforts like these take time, investment and consistency. Allowing for differences and embracing the uniqueness of your employees and their experiences is ultimately what will help set this tone culturally. It’s about learning to be open to all possibilities, to listen to one another and that you’re stronger as a team than as individuals—just like we are together in NAWBO. 

This Black History Month, and throughout the year, we celebrate the incredible diversity of our organization and members and work to make sure that every woman business owner sees herself here. Click here to read about our diversity and inclusion commitments.

—Cristina Morales Heaney
  2020-2021 NAWBO National Board Chair

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