Diversity and inclusion makes good business sense

  • Posted on January 6, 2014

diversity and inclusion

This is a guest blog post written by Avanade alum, Eddie Pate.

Talk about a no-brainer: diversity and inclusion enables creative competitive advantage for those businesses willing to go all in!  For me, taking diversity and inclusion seriously simply makes good business sense. I honestly feel very fortunate to be leading the charge on Diversity and Inclusion at Avanade because we characterize Diversity and Inclusion as a global business imperative for realizing our vision (to be recognized as a global services innovator, helping customers realize the best results from the Microsoft platform).  We simply will not be the best for our customers or for our own employees if we don’t embrace and relish difference.  Look, it comes down to this…as global markets become more diverse, companies will need to build capabilities to understand, respect, and leverage continued change. Luckily, Avanade is doing this already.

Truly Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion Hinges on Understanding What it Means to YOU

No individuals or company will really get what Diversity and Inclusion is all about without understanding, foundationally, what it means for you and your company!  I love the simplicity of this statement: “Diversity is what comes through your doors. Inclusion is what you do with it.” When I reference this during presentations I give to groups this is the moment I hesitate, letting my audience absorb what I just said and then I repeat it, nodding my head as I say it: “Diversity is what comes through your doors. Inclusion is what you do with it.”  For me this is a critical point of understanding and the moment when inclusion is held up as THE key to a successful diversity program.  If we are going to be innovative, it’s got to be about inclusion.

Before I hop off my soapbox, I will say though there are some key points to remember.

  • Diversity needs to be defined broadly and can’t JUST be about race and/or sex (gender).  Take global companies like Avanade, for example, cultural and language differences, geographic locations, working style and organizational role are all huge diversity differentiators for us.
  • Diversity and Inclusion is not only about social identity but it is also about the processes and structures that make up our organizations.  Diversity, ultimately, needs to be woven into everything we do.  I've often joked that I should work myself out of a job by making Diversity and Inclusion seamlessly integrated so I’m able to simply ride off into the sunset on my black horse.
  • Diversity doesn't mean being colorblind, sex blind, age blind, difference blind, and so on. I’m a big believer in creating an environment where each employee — both because of and regardless of who they are — can do their best work and feel welcomed and respected.
  • Diversity and Inclusion should be about fun, it should be energizing, it should be about creating innovative environments where including difference is normal, and finally it should be about truly impacting what you do for your customers and clients.

It is at this point I feel like I need to do one of those disclosure statements so here it is: I won’t sit here and say it will be easy but I will say it will be worth it!

At Avanade, we've even created a Spirit of Inclusion video to drive home the point.

Pam Greenstein

Great to see these new sites; and that this topic is being highlighted!  I too repeat that line with new hires "Diversity is what comes through you doors; Inclusion is what you do with it."  Everyone finds this powerful, especially when we discuss some concrete examples of what happens when we unconsciously don't include people, and how this leads to employee dis-engagement. Thanks Eddie for this post!

February 7, 2014

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