Strategic workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is good business…especially for small businesses. Do you want to compete in the marketplace? Be culturally competent in how you do business and engage your clients, community, and vendors. Here are five ways sound DEI strategies can give your small business a competitive advantage:
5 Ways DEI Strategies Benefit Small Businesses
1. Expanding your customer base. You can’t grow your market share in an overly saturated and competitive marketplace. You must grow your market by expanding your potential client pool size. People want to shop where they feel valued. People support businesses that also take the time to understand them as clients or consumers.
Glen’s navigation tips: Consider your marketing images and language. Also, be mindful of where and how you are marketing your business. You have to fish in new streams to hook different fish. Consider culturally competent communication training to help you build trust with a diverse client base.
2. Connecting to your community. Before you reach out beyond your local community, you might want to ensure the community you serve sees you as a valued member. Connecting to the local community almost always pays positive dividends for a small business; it establishes a consistent client base with low acquisition costs.
Glen’s navigation tips: Get your hands dirty and get your team out volunteering in the community. Sponsor a diverse set of events, programs, and civic organizations. The community should know your name. Make potential clients ask, “Why to go to a big chain when I can support a local small business.” Ask yourself the following questions and respond appropriately, “Have the demographics of my community changed? Are my client base and staffing reflective of my community?” Forward-looking small businesses recognize and understand the implications of demographic shifts and adapt their strategies, HR practices, and business operations to better meet the needs of current and future employees and clients.
3. Tapping into diverse networks to enhance recruiting and improve employee retention. Belonging and diversity are not just important as we think about potential clients. Still, in a competitive job market, we want to acquire top talent and hold on to top talent. A strong, diverse workforce enhances the reach of a small business in numerous ways. Diverse talent allows you to tap into diverse markets and engage clients and vendors in ways that monocultural teams may not fully be able to. A diverse, empowered staff allows you to avoid bias and broadens your perspective on how customers engage with your small business’s products and services.
Glen’s navigation tips: Read my blog on this topic, Seven Strategies for Overcoming Implicit Bias in the Workplace
4. Less stress and increased workplace harmony. Increased morale and innovation and key characteristics of a culturally competent workplace. Some research shows that only about one-third of the workforce is engaged at work. Yes, quiet quitting is real when there is no sense of belonging and ownership at work. This lack of engagement damages morale, profits, and enthusiasm. You are not getting the proper return on investment for the talent you employ. Having your voice heard contributes to a sense of engagement, and engaged employees perform at higher levels.
Glen’s navigation tips: Set up regular and low-risk feedback systems in the workplace, enabling employees at every level to have a voice. Ensure that you promote a shared experience and opportunities for employees to connect, especially in hybrid or remote work settings. Provide broader perspectives on complex workplace challenges via employee resource groups (ERGs) or other inclusive focus groups. Nurture a more positive workplace by clearly stating your DEI goals and including them in your strategic planning efforts.
5. Cancel-proof your small business. A culturally competent organization will never have to worry about being canceled or making the news for the wrong reason. With a strong DEI background and a well-trained workforce, you can take responsibility for any mistake you or your team may make. You will have to reputation and gravitas to weather the storm of accusations. And if you need to make an apology for a faux pax, people will believe you. Not only that, but you will have both internal and external support. Your small business won’t be burdened with careless apologies that risk worsening consumer backlash.
Glen’s navigation tips: Invest in ongoing training for your team. To be a culturally competent organization, you need ongoing skills-based training.
Are you looking for the next step in reaping the tangible benefits of DEI in your small business? Reach out to my team of experts and me. We would love to help you and your small business.