An Inclusive Culture is a Winning Culture

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What a noteworthy time to be a leader, witnessing significant contrasts of thought and diverse paths regarding interpersonal dynamics. I am inspired to write about the value of an inclusive culture based on three recent instances that touched me deeply and meet my own value system and convictions. I see a movement of people waking up to the value and commitment of win/win and inclusive practices while others fear this.

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”                          

~Martin Luther King, Jr

 One example is Dan Price, a thought leader who heads up Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company. He, like any significant change agent is both revered and scorned. Whether he intended to or not, he has disrupted the status quo by taking time to consider the needs of every employee, and increasing the minimum pay of all staff to $70K per year or more, out of his own pocket. He models social interest; thoughtful consideration of consequences he causes others.

Price includes practical care for all in proximity to him. Not only has he tripled his business, he has created a community of caring and service-minded people who adore him and care about many others too. Price knows that when everyone wins, extraordinary things happen. He has created a radically inclusive culture by believing in people and in enough; enough money, time, ideas, joy and love.

Next, I watched The Queen’s Gambit, a powerful series on Netflix about a chess genius who commits to her passion and overcomes many obstacles to win the Chess World Championship. A notable moment is when another chess grand master, (probably second to her in skill) says, “The Russians have an advantage over us Americans because they help one another succeed. We in the US are so wedded to our precious individualism, we don’t appreciate and allow for mutual support.” The conclusion of this program is the breaking of that individualism as a team of encouraging supporters ensure her incredible accomplishment.

The third example was a social media clip of Austin state representative James Talarico. He offered a prayer on the floor of congress, something that usually repels me, especially because such activities often communicate, “our faith is right and yours is wrong.” This often causes separation and an ‘us’ against ‘them’ experience for many. I heard his prayer naming and honoring multiple faiths at their best, indicating their equal important contributions to love. To my surprise, there were those who vehemently reacted with outrage to his mutual inclusion of multiple faith traditions.

Too often leaders, including in business, have bought into a notion that issues of humanity and mutual benefit weaken results. Then they preserve systems of conventional separation by levels within archaic and oppressive hierarchies. This is a common misconception, valuing inequality, resulting in insecure, discouraged division between have’s and have not’s.

Not only does this hurt the ‘have-not’s’, it hurts everyone. Repeatedly, we see this leads to losses and inefficiencies, even though the illusion is gain that is passionately pursued by those wedded to “what’s in it for me?” and “dog-eat’ dog.” Contrary to this scarcity mentality, many are waking up to the truth that by investing in people (all of them), then extraordinary positive outcomes occur.

In our work within culture transformation, we support and prove that conditions and conversations prioritizing mutual respect, psychological safety, shared power and equity and inclusion for all (from CEO to front-line staff) bring about productivity and generosity at unseen levels and for untold value. Our goal is to build upon the momentum of new initiatives to create inclusive systems despite those old-school ones clinging to outdated, oppressive systems of coercion, neglect and callousness. If you are at the point of realizing inclusion is a fulfilling and rewarding path forward, you may not know where to start. We can help. Let us.

This article is published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly in the column The Extraordinary Workplace, May 2021.

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