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Software Executive Presents Business Case for DEI, in Face of Backlash

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jan 19, 2024


The recent backlash against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives has been well-documented in recent months, but inclusion is still important for business, argues Mita Mallick, head of inclusion, equity and impact at software developer Carta, in Fast Company.

To buttress her contention, Mallick discusses several ways in which inclusion boosts businesses’ bottom lines.

The first is that inclusion is tied to productivity. “Feeling included is directly related to how productive I am on any given day,” she writes. Microaggressions affect careers by increasing burnout and decreasing job satisfaction, she argues, citing a 2022 Harvard Business Review article. She also notes that a company many need to expend significant emotional, physical and financial resources to recover from the impact of repeated harm in the workplace.

Mallick observes that when employees are kept off meeting invites, mocked for their accents, excluded from social events or not recognized for their work efforts, that can cause them to spend more time worrying about whether they belongs at their organization and less time contributing.

“If this happens to multiple individuals over time, this can be a huge drop in productivity for an organization,” Mallick writes. “DEI work is designed to stop productivity-killing microaggressions like these. When employees feel valued, respected and recognized for their contributions at work, they are able to unlock their potential..[and can]help the company unlock [its] potential. 

The second way that inclusion can boost the bottom line is that it can help uncover business opportunities. As the U.S. population becomes increasingly non-white, creating inclusive environments “is a key factor in attracting talent to help uncover new business opportunities,” Mallick argues.

She cites a number of statistics to support her claim: Fifty-three percent of employees say that inclusion efforts play a role in where they ultimately decide to work, according to an Eagle Hill Consulting Survey; companies with more diverse workforces generate more creativity, and as a result have 19 percent higher revenue from innovation, the World Economic Forum reported. And the buying power of the multicultural consumer is more than $5 trillion, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard told the Association of National Advertisers in 2022.

“Viewing business opportunities through the lens of inclusion, serving communities that your competition is ignoring, will ultimately generate more revenue for your organization,” Mallick wrote.

The third way that inclusion can increase productivity is by acting as a powerful retention tool, Mallick argues. U.S. businesses lose close to $1 trillion every year to employees quitting, a Gallup poll found. Reasons for quitting include unfair pay, toxic workplace culture, feeling undervalued, limited advancement, bad bosses and misaligned values, according to a FlexJob report. That led Mallick to assert, “Many of these reasons and more can be traced back to a lack of an inclusive culture,” adding, “When workers feel included, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and happier at work.”

“Ultimately, inclusion is a driver of the business,” Mallick argues in conclusion. “Those leaders who accept and harness the power of inclusion will set themselves and their organizations apart from competition in 2024 and years to come.”