In late June, we talked a bit about The Inclusion Dividend: Why Investing in Diversity & Inclusion Pays Off by Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan, with the intent of relating its concepts to supplier diversity; and, how it might apply to us as SDMWVBE (Small, Disadvantaged, Minority, Women or Veteran Business Enterprise) businesses.  Chapter two’s opening sentence reminds us that “Companies are in business, first and foremost, to make a profit”.  The theme of this chapter is the impact of diversity inclusion on an organization’s bottom line. While much of the emphasis is on acquiring and managing internal human resources, there is discussion about “applying inclusion tactics to attracting, retaining and developing clients or customers.”  The book lists three specific challenges a business faces in its marketplace:

  • If the SDMWVBE falls in the consumer space, they recommend asking yourself: Is your brand inclusive? Do you attract a diverse customer base? Do the products reflect the needs of diverse marketplace?
  • For the SDMWVBE in the B2B, they suggest questioning: How effectively do you build client relationships? Do you engage them inclusively? Do you use your diversity, and theirs, to strengthen these relationships?

The authors describe how the Dagoba Group uses its RADIXTM model for infusing the client relationship management cycle with diversity inclusion.  While vastly over-simplified (read the book!) this translates to:

  • Reach: use and grow your internal diversity to expand into diverse customer demographics;
  • Aquire: use your diverse marketing team to your best advantage, and internally commit to your own supplier diversity program;
  • Develop: make sure your account executives are trained and/or developed to deal with diverse groups of decision makers.  As a SDMWVBE, be less homogenous;
  • Inspire: build rapport across differences;
  • eXit: use the rapport your have built to manage a successful transition, maintain the professional relationships and to secure future referrals and recommendations.

Just because we SDMVBE business are by definition considered diverse, many of us remain homogenous within our diversity cocoons. As SDMWVBE businesses, we should find ways to make that diversity work within and for our organizations beyond helping our clients satisfy their diversity spend goals.  We can use our commitment to diversity to create innovative new solutions to client challenges and build strong client relationships … two tactics that can help us in our quests to increase our sales and profits.