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Growing Your Consulting Business Through Diversity & Inclusion

Defining Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity is the variety of demographics that form a workforce, group or society. We tend to think of the demographics of gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, physical ability.

Minority/underrepresented groups are any demographic that has a significantly less population in a workplace or culture than a majority group and are less visible throughout the structure, hierarchy of an organization.

Inclusion is how various demographics are represented in all levels and functions of the environment.

In other words, diversity & inclusion refers to how well a business integrates diverse perspectives and backgrounds into its decision processes.

Can a company have diversity without inclusion?

If an employee or colleague feels that they are not recognized or valued as contributors to the organization, their sense of belonging and inclusion disappears.

A glaring example was the class action lawsuit against Tesla for over 100 complaints of racial discrimination and harassment. Black workers make up 20% of Tesla’s factory assemblers, yet there are no Black executives. (Los Angeles Times)

Can a company have inclusion without diversity?

No! A company with little or no diversity is not inclusive.

Instead, the business will have a culture of groupthink: a phenomenon that occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without the benefit of alternative points of view.

I am a solopreneur/consultant. Is D&I relevant for my business type?

It is tempting to associate D&I with hiring staff. Most large companies focus on increasing diversity by attracting employees from different backgrounds. That is only one solution to D&I.

D&I is just as relevant for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are leaders and innovators. HBR claims “diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth.”

You are likely already using elements of inclusive leadership to run your business. Business owners influence the agenda and priorities of their business through all aspects of their work.

Solopreneurs can influence prospects to become clients via inclusive marketing & promotion. Consultants influence clients to work with their unique (diverse) ideas and methodology.

Diversity within the entrepreneurial sector in 2022:

  • The number of small and medium-sized enterprises worldwide stands at 400 million
  • There are a little over 25 million small and medium-sized enterprises In the European Union
  • Over 8 out of 10 small businesses have no employees
  • 27.1 million are run by a solopreneur (Forbes Advisor, 2022)
  • Men are 2 times more likely to start a new business than women
  • 40% of small businesses in America are owned by women (American Express, Finances Online)
  • Six out of ten people who start a small business are between 40 and 60 years old. (Guidant Financial)
  • Immigrants are 80% more likely to start businesses in the U.S. than native-born citizens

I am a minority business owner. Aren’t I already doing everything I need to do with D&I?

Minority business owners have to navigate a professional landscape that has added barriers of structural bias and systemic injustice, such as:

  • Less VC funding opportunities for women and minority-owned start-ups
  • Visa challenges for foreigners who become entrepreneurs in their host country
  • Biased procurement process that makes a preference for large suppliers over small suppliers
  • Unconscious racial bias in the pitching process for consultants

Diversity suppliers are companies owned or led by someone from a minority group.

As clients of B2B companies are demanding to work with diversity-minded businesses, a growing number of industries are adding “proof of diversity” to RFP processes.

The companies are requesting a diversity policy, data on the diversity composition of the staff (percentage of women and other minority groups), and evidence of working relationships with diversity suppliers.

This is an opportunity for diverse led companies to highlight the diversity supplier distinction with their ideal prospects.

Diversity Is Sustained by Inclusive Leadership

Deloitte introduced the 6 Traits of Inclusive leadership:

  1. Curiosity to ask
  2. Courage to engage in deeper talks about new perspectives
  3. Cultural Intelligence: recognizing that experiences differ based on different culture/background
  4. Cognizance: knowing that you don’t know it all, and willing to ask “what am I missing?”
  5. Commitment to the continuous work and focus on inclusive practices
  6. Collaboration: consistently work with people who bring new perspectives & ideas

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