Introduction

There are plenty of books about diversity and inclusion. This one is different. It’s about the business value of diversity and inclusion, not the moral case.

I play lots of roles, including those of a husband, father and son. The experiences that supplied the motivation for writing this book and shaped my approach come from my three public leadership roles. First, I run a company called Mongoose, which funds community projects fighting gang affiliation and Wahhabi radicalisation in communities at risk. Second, I lead a social enterprise called Drive, a multi-strand inclusion charity dedicated to sharing best practice from around the world. Third, I’m chairman and co-founder of Green Park, a provider of interim management, executive search, and board and diversity advisory solutions across the private, public and third sectors.

Much of what I say in this book has the potential to upset people. I see myself as a leader of change, not a cheerleader. And I need to be plain that we simply haven’t seen enough sustainable progress in the representation of women, ethnic minorities and other protected strands in the UK’s organisations. I’m the first to celebrate success. But there’s still a long way to go on our journey.

I’m going to upset sceptics who think that diversity and inclusion isn’t important to the way we run organisations or the experience of those who work in them or deal with them. I’m going to upset those who like to believe everything is going just fine with diversity and inclusion, and that some state of perfection will be achieved thanks to a natural drift towards virtue – and certainly no action is required from them. I’m going to upset liberal elites whose well-meaning but dangerous groupthink acts as a barrier to authentic co-creation with people whose lived experiences differ from those of the majority. I’m going to upset diverse people whose attitudes to diversity and inclusion are stuck in the 1980s and who see no reason to help move the dial. And I’m going to upset everyone who thinks diversity and inclusion are only about social justice and have glancingly little to do with the achievement of business goals.

I have good news as well. If you care about the success of your organisation, you can make diversity and inclusion work for you.

Professionals working in diversity and inclusion should already know much of the explanatory material in this book. I wanted to write a book that would give the general business reader both the background they need to know and compelling reasons for taking action. If you put this book down with just one new idea for what you can do differently, I’ll take that as a result.

The book is organised in seven sections:

Part 1: Defining terms and drawing up a balance sheet
A look at the key terms used in diversity and inclusion; how they are used and sometimes misused. I also introduce the concept of a diversity and inclusion balance sheet, a means for organisations to measure and target their investments in D&I.

Part 2: Recognising the need for change
D&I would seem to be a well-established corporate theme, profession and object of study. But it’s really in its infancy. Organisations are only just beginning to recognise the importance of diversity and many have not yet realised its centrality to their survival and success. The committed use of practical approaches to ensuring inclusion remains rare. There’s an urgent need for organisations to grasp the opportunities of diversity and inclusion, so that they can thrive in an ever more challenging world.

Part 3: Structural challenges to diversity and inclusion
A look at a range of cultural, political and historical reasons why progress in diversity and inclusion has stalled. These are structural constraints that business leaders need to take into account when formulating their D&I strategies.

Part 4: The psychological dimension of diversity and inclusion
An exploration of how habits of mind interact with diversity and inclusion to obstruct an organisation’s progress or to obscure its aims.

Part 5: Tomorrow’s diversity and inclusion toolset
A range of frameworks, mechanisms and tools for organisations to ensure that diversity and inclusion work for their business.
 
Part 6: The evolving state of D&I
The business landscape continues to evolve and our approach to diversity and inclusion must also adapt to changing goals, expectations and constraints. The growing focus on diversity and inclusion has created its own feedback effects, investments have not always paid off and recent history has shown how institutional racism remains a potent force. Nevertheless, D&I is poised to take a commanding position in business strategy.
 
Part 7: A different future
A look ahead to how organisations will use diversity and inclusion to enable them to thrive in a challenging world.