In the global marketplace having awareness and empathy for difference is essential, this goes beyond language and requires a more inclusive view of your clients and consumers. Agile, creative, and inclusive approaches are often connected to the start-up community but there is a shift within business to consider different ways of doing things. The B Corp global movement promotes companies to prioritise their social and environmental responsibilities. In the UK the Better Business campaign is seeking a legal change to make business consider their social impact above the primacy of shareholder profit. The changing values and skills needed by the business world have evolved. This was recognised within the context of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” but accelerated due to massive social change brought about by the pandemic. A positive way to design an inclusive business culture is to build this into the leadership team and recognise the value of diverse talent.
Current trends in leadership have emphasised qualities and core values that involve human-centred qualities. Thought leaders such as Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, and John Amaechi have moved the conversation on from Daniel Goleman’s ideas of emotional intelligence (EQ). Aware of the complexities of global leadership in a time of flux the Common Purpose training organisation introduced the concept of Cultural Intelligence (CQ) and experts from the sport and design* worlds are promoting creative problem-solving methods to encourage new ways of thinking. All these approaches include having empathy for, and embracing, a diverse range of views. These approaches would be achieved by recruiting and supporting more diverse talent in your core team.
It is proven that companies with diverse leadership teams attain 73% more revenue from innovation and are 33% more likely to outperform. (McKinsey & Co 2020 report – Diversity Still Matters) There are ample examples of schemes to support gender and ethnic diversity in business leadership, but disability inclusivity often gets relegated to regulatory considerations for accessibility of the physical workplace or the digital environment. This is starting to change.
The Valuable 500 campaign, launched at the World Economic Forum in 2019, has a mission to revolutionise disability inclusion through business leadership and embracing the opportunity that a disability inclusive culture brings. The Accenture Disability Inclusion Advantage Report noted that companies that championed disability inclusion achieved 28% higher revenue and doubled their net income. The business case is clear and is becoming appreciated by C-suite executives.
The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change and demonstrated that it is possible to do things differently. Companies that in the past have been slow to offer accommodations or flexible working now have evidence that people can be trusted to work in ways that suit them.
Dr Jo Gooding (she/her) is an educator, researcher, and expert in design for disability. She is experienced in inclusive design, conducting research, mentoring entrepreneurs, and delivers reviews and workshops on Disability Inclusive Design. She is co-founder of a consultancy supporting business in the adaptive fashion and clothing sector. If you would like to know more, please contact her at email@example.com or through LinkedIn
* Syed Black Box Thinking, Brown Change by Design, Geerawo Creative Leadership.