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Diversity and Inclusion: Key to Business Success

Diversity and Inclusion Key to Business Success
Photo Courtesy: Kelly McDonald

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the concept of diversity has transcended traditional boundaries. Kelly McDonald, a renowned expert on the subject and the author of How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You, provides a fresh perspective for CEOs and business leaders. McDonald’s expertise in the field of diversity is not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, and LGBTQ+. She emphasizes that the modern work environment encompasses an even broader picture of diversity, recognizing that any way we can be different from one another constitutes “diversity.” And we are all very different.

This evolved understanding of diversity means that differences in education, backgrounds, perspectives, and professional and life experiences are all part of the diversity mosaic. McDonald illustrates this point vividly: “A pessimist is different from an optimist. A risk taker is different from someone who is risk averse. Morning people are different than night owls. Someone who has served in the military is different than someone who has not. A farmer is different than a stockbroker.” By acknowledging these differences, organizations can create more inclusive environments that leverage various perspectives and experiences.

It’s a fact that organizations that embrace diversity and differences in all their forms are more successful than those that don’t. This success is measured in terms of financial performance and innovation, employee engagement, and overall organizational health. Employees who feel valued for their unique contributions are more likely to be motivated, productive, and committed to the organization’s goals.

Effective communication is one of the key challenges in fostering a truly inclusive workplace, especially when people hold differing views. McDonald points out the common practice of saying, “Let’s agree to disagree,” which, while polite, is ultimately unproductive. “Agree to disagree” is a conversation stopper. It halts any further discussion, understanding, or compromise. In contrast, McDonald advocates for the use of the phrase “I see it differently,” which she describes as a conversation extender. This approach encourages curiosity and further discussion, fostering an environment where diverse perspectives are valued and explored.

When someone says, “I see it differently,” it invites the other person to explain their viewpoint. This dialogue helps both parties better understand each other’s perspectives. While they may still not agree, they will have engaged in a meaningful exchange that enhances empathy, understanding, and inclusion. McDonald explains that sharing different perspectives is crucial in business. “It’s how we avoid mistakes and missteps that might not occur. It’s how ideas blossom from a gem of a concept to full-scale innovation.”

In essence, diversity and inclusion in the workplace go beyond mere representation. They involve creating an environment where all differences are recognized and valued and open, respectful dialogue is encouraged. By doing so, organizations can harness the full potential of their workforce, driving innovation and achieving greater success. It’s just good business to be diverse.

Kelly McDonald highlights that recognizing and embracing the full spectrum of diversity—from personality traits to life experiences—and fostering open, continuous dialogue are essential components of a successful, inclusive workplace. Business leaders who adopt this broader, more evolved approach to diversity will create a more positive work environment and position their organizations for long-term success.

Diversity and Inclusion Key to Business Success
Photo Courtesy: Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald is an acclaimed speaker specializing in consumer trends and changing demographics. She is the president of McDonald’s Marketing and has authored four bestselling books on customer experience, leadership, and marketing—all from working with people “not like you.”.”  Her book, How to Work With and Lead People Not Like You, has been on two bestseller lists.  

Published by: Holy Minoza

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