The body of research supporting the business case for diversity and inclusion is strong — and growing. We will update this page as we find new research. And if you know of a study or report we should include here, please share it with us.Why diversity matters (2015, McKinsey) New research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially. From diversity to inclusion (2014, Deloitte University Press) Move from compliance to diversity as a business strategy Diverse teams perform better (2013, Ernst & Young) Teamwork is good – and diverse, cross-disciplinary, multinational teamwork is better. Diversity as an engine of innovation (2011, Deloitte University Press) Retail and consumer goods companies find competitive advantage in diversity Better Decisions Through Diversity (2010, Kellogg School of Management) Heterogeneity can boost group performance In Professor’s Model, Diversity = Productivity (2008, New York Times) “What the model showed was that diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving problems.”
The Mouse and the Elephant is excited to announce a new partnership with Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School.
Starting in August, the company will deliver a customized version of its “Designing an Inclusive Culture” program for all incoming students in Olin Business School’s full-time MBA Class of 2017.
“Our new MBA students are embarking upon a tremendous period of professional and personal development,” says Sarah Miller, Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Student Affairs for the Olin School. “We believe that a crucial part of developing into an outstanding leader is learning to recognize, appreciate, and empower the wide-ranging perspectives and life experiences of the people around you.”
The partnership will mark the first time The Mouse and the Elephant has trained university students.
“Up to now, we’ve worked with senior leaders and established managers,” says Eric Ratinoff, principal and co-founder of the training company. “Most of them had limited exposure to diversity and inclusion principles before we worked with them, and for many it was a challenge to put these new ideas into practice. For these students to get a grounding in this work at this stage in their careers, before they reach the leadership ranks, is going to be a real advantage for them—and also for the companies that hire them.”
The program will feature three modules spread over the course of the fall semester. Topics will include social identity, power and privilege, unconscious bias, stereotype threat, the myth of colorblindness, microaggressions, dynamics of diverse teams, and inclusive communication.
“There are no right answers in diversity and inclusion work,” says Dr. Kira Hudson Banks, principal and co-founder of The Mouse and the Elephant. “There’s no formula that says, ‘Whenever this happens, do this.’ Instead, we focus on developing awareness and understanding, so they can see what’s happening in their work environments more objectively, and can ask better questions about team dynamics and organizational culture. We then layer that awareness and understanding with specific skill development, so that wherever they go, they’ll be prepared to lead more inclusive teams—teams that innovate, communicate, and perform better.”
“Companies are increasingly recognizing that there is a solid business case for valuing diversity and inclusion,” Miller says. “Students must be in this mindset right from the beginning of the program so that they view their Olin experience through this lens.”
Kurt Dirks, Senior Associate Dean of Programs and Bank of America Professor of Managerial Leadership, says part of what motivated the Olin School to partner with The Mouse and the Elephant was that, “They address both the human side and the business case. Dr. Banks brings a practical approach with a research background. As a university, both were important to us to ensure that our students could use the material, but also that it had a strong foundation.”
Miller looks forward to the impact the program can have. “We hope that students will be armed with a foundational framework to apply to their Olin MBA experience and one that they will continue to develop during their subsequent career path,” she says. “We also hope that any students who come into the program feeling that diversity and inclusion training is simply cultural awareness or sensitivity training will be convinced of its importance to the operation of businesses.”
While diversity and inclusion training is gaining momentum in the corporate world, similar initiatives are much less common among MBA programs. “The Olin School is demonstrating leadership and forward thinking by making this kind of commitment to diversity and inclusion,” says Banks. “We’re excited to have them as our partner.”
Dirks agrees. “This is a very unique package that has potential for delivering maximum impact on this important topic.”
About The Mouse and the Elephant
Going beyond typical “lunch and learn” or even half- or full-day diversity workshops, the Mouse and the Elephant delivers a modular diversity and inclusion training program that integrates experiential activities, small-group discussion, applied theater, interactive games, journal reflection, films and online videos, and assigned readings, with a focus on real-world application. Designed for leaders who appreciate the business case for diversity and inclusion, the Mouse and the Elephant’s program trains participants to thrive in the workforce of the future. Learn more at http://mouseandelephant.com/.
About Olin Business School
Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, established in 1917, is one of the country’s leading business schools. From a four-year undergraduate program to multiple MBA programs, specialized masters and doctoral level degrees, Olin’s community is collegial and collaborative. Small class size allows for interactive learning and team-focused work. The flexible curriculum allows for career-oriented experiences every semester like consulting projects in the U.S. or abroad, internships and board fellowships, plus study options on six continents. Entrepreneurship courses and competitions foster a thriving startup environment. Olin alumni lead with purpose, integrity and critical thinking skills required to succeed in the global economy. Learn more at http://www.olin.wustl.edu/.
by Eric Ratinoff
We have been talking for a very long time about how we really, really need to talk about race. How it’s time for a national dialogue about race. How we in the business community need to have that difficult conversation about race.
All this talking about talking.
Why do we keep talking about having to talk about it?
We talk about talking about race as though if we could just get the right people to say the right things at the right time in the right order, we could solve this tricky puzzle that’s been vexing us all these years.
But the reason we keep talking about talking about race, rather than actually talking about race, is because the actual conversation about race is dangerous. We risk being wrong. The conversation about race is painful. We risk being vulnerable. The conversation about race is scary. We risk being honest.
Saying we should talk about race, though? That’s safe. Who can argue with it?
In his piece, “I, Racist,” John Metta says another issue keeps us from having the conversation — we’re not actually having the same conversation:
White people and Black people are not having a discussion about race. Black people, thinking as a group, are talking about living in a racist system. White people, thinking as individuals, refuse to talk about “I, racist” and instead protect their own individual and personal goodness. In doing so, they reject the existence of racism.
Charles Blow of the New York Times expands on this distinction between individual racism and institutional racism. Institutional racism, he says, is not limited to racist laws, or intentional racist acts:
All of these definitions of institutional racism are incredibly narrow, and therefore take an incredibly myopic view of what institutional racism looks like. These definitions require a sort of direct discrimination, an articulation either in law or custom, to be deemed real.
But institutional racism will not be limited in that way …. institutional racism doesn’t require the enlisting of individual racists. The machine does the discriminating.
How can we merge these conversations, when one group that wants to engage in a dialogue urgently wants to talk about racism at a systemic level, built up over centuries, and another wants to defend its individual actions, performed over a single lifetime — and the institutions with which it identifies?
For starters, those who enjoy White privilege can do less talking (and less talking about talking), and more listening. And more reading.
The only way we can have a productive conversation about race is if we’re having the same conversation. And the only way we can have the same conversation is if those who are worried about not appearing racist understand what systemic, institutional racism looks like — and in so doing understand how they’re not being accused of it, but rather being enlisted in dismantling it.
And if you’re looking for a good starting point for understanding what it feels like to be Black in America, set aside some time to sit with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Letter to My Son,” a powerful, personal essay (adapted from his forthcoming book, “Between the World and Me“) that offers a perspective on race that you will find either hauntingly familiar, because too many of the stories ring true to your experience, or sobering, because they don’t.
This originally appeared in The Mouse and the Elephant Weekly.
by Eric Ratinoff
As you may have heard, the President said the n-word this week.
And though he said it on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, in the context of a much larger discussion about race relations in America, itself part of an hour-long interview that also explored (among other things) identity, gun laws, and Richard Pryor — and said it to make the point that just because it’s no longer okay to say that word in public, it doesn’t mean we’ve wiped out racism — news outlets reacted as though the sole reason he sat down with Maron was to utter that one word, and thus further divide the country over race.
While it’s by now predictable that the media-industrial complex will freak out about things like this, it’s still frustrating and disappointing to see a thoughtful, nuanced conversation about a complicated, difficult topic once again get boiled down to a hysterical reaction about the use of one word.
To be clear, conversations about language are worthwhile. Language matters.
But to fixate on one word misses the very point the President was trying to make — not to mention all of the larger, more complex things he was, you know, actually talking about. And while it’s foolish to hope the media might devote time to those more complex points — or anything that can’t be compressed into a 30-second sound bite — here’s hoping all the hubbub prompts some people to actually listen to the full podcast.
As he says in the interview, one reason President Obama was willing to open up and talk candidly about race in this setting was because a podcast, unlike a press conference, lends itself to honesty, reflection, and in-depth conversation. It’s personal, because it’s an open-ended discussion between two human beings.
It also helps that for all his neuroticism, which he often shares at length, Marc Maron knows how to listen.
In case you missed it in the photo above, there’s a small sign, stashed above the bookshelves in Maron’s garage, that captures not only Maron’s podcasting philosophy, but a pretty good credo when it comes to conversations about race, gender, religion, or any other area where our differences may divide us. The sign reads:
by Eric Ratinoff
You don’t have to work in diversity and inclusion to be moved by the recent events in Baltimore. You don’t have to work in diversity and inclusion to read the headlines and see the pictures and watch the videos and feel hurt, anger, frustration, despair, or sadness, sometimes all at once.
Even for those of us who do work in diversity and inclusion, it’s easy to feel helpless. Maybe you feel helpless because you’re not in Baltimore. Maybe you feel helpless because you can’t influence how police treat Black men. Maybe you feel helpless because, well, what can one person do to address generations of injustice?
But the death of Freddie Gray, and the uprisings in response to it, are symptoms of a larger systemic inequality that affects everything from policing to housing, from banking to hiring.
Because this incident, like too many similar incidents in the last year, raises questions about police treatment of Black men, it’s easy to think about it solely as a racial issue. The issues raised are issues of social justice, of equity, and of fairness, both under the law and in our daily interactions with our fellow citizens. As such, they touch, and are touched by, every aspect of our society.
In other words, these issues of equity and fairness are no more limited to racial inequality in Baltimore than they are to gender inequality in Silicon Valley. To care about one and not the other is to miss a critical connection. That connection, that common thread, is unequal treatment. Or to use a more blunt word—a word that makes people even more uncomfortable—it is oppression.
Placing these events within the framework of oppression or inequality has a drawback: it can make the issues seem overwhelming.
But we are not powerless. We can do something about them.
Whether we live in Baltimore or not, whether we work with the police or not, whether we are legislators or not, whether we work in diversity and inclusion or not, we can do something. Within our own sphere of influence, no matter where that influence exists, no matter how broadly it extends—whether it is so small that we feel we can only influence our own heart and mind, or whether it is broad enough that we can influence our entire organization—we can do something.
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable protesting. Maybe you aren’t in a position to change policy. Maybe you aren’t even comfortable posting something on Facebook.
But we can read, listen, and empathize. We can consider carefully our words and deeds. We can speak up when we see ignorance uttered right beside us. And we can understand that the workplace is a reflection of the greater society, and that what we say and do at work impacts that greater society. We can work for a more fair, a more just, a more equitable workplace, wherever we work.
We cannot leave the fight for equality to those protesting in the streets of Baltimore, or Ferguson, or any other American city where people are standing up. The fight belongs to all of us.
The name of our company, The Mouse and the Elephant, comes from a parable. The long version is on our website (and the inspiration, and longer version, are in The Loudest Duck by Laura Liswood), but the short version is this: in every sphere of life, there are mice, and there are elephants. The mice often lack power, and a voice, but they do not lack skill or smarts or passion or value. The elephants usually have the power, and while they do not by definition lack empathy or compassion, they often do not see or realize their power, or the sometimes-destructive ways in which they wield it.
The best, most productive, most effective workplaces, communities, and societies understand that when the mice and the elephants can appreciate each other, when they can see and hear and understand and learn from each other, and when they can work together, everybody benefits.
In Baltimore today, the mice are speaking up, and people across the country are finally paying attention (in truth, the mice have been speaking up for quite a while). But we cannot expect the mice alone to erase generations of injustice. In every civil rights victory in this country, when mice fought for equality, elephants stood beside them in solidarity. Not all elephants, of course. But enough elephants to make the less-enlightened elephants think twice.
The fight the protestors in Baltimore are fighting is not the fight of Black people alone. It is our fight. And the battlefield is bigger than Baltimore. It is our workplace, our community, our schools, our homes. It is any place justice, fairness, and equity are threatened. In other words, it is everywhere.
True confession, before we go any further: writing this is hard. It is uncomfortable. I get paid to teach and train about diversity and inclusion, and I co-author a regular column about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and yet as I read and read and read and read some more, and then sat down and tried to write, I kept thinking, “Who am I, as a White man, to speak up on this? Why would anyone care what I have to say? What if I have nothing of value to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say the thing wrong?”
But I know that saying nothing is the greater mistake. If we don’t have a conversation, we only have reaction. What we need is a proactive, ongoing, nuanced, deliberate, difficult conversation.
Injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, oppression … these are hard things to talk about. We are afraid that the words we choose won’t be the right ones. Even when we feel solidarity and compassion and concern, we fear the words we might find will fall short of a solution. But no one of us has to find a solution. Rather, each one of us is responsible to be another small voice in the conversation, trying to figure something out. Change doesn’t happen with one march, with one protest, or with one rousing speech, but one conversation at a time.
The protesters in the streets of Baltimore are carrying on a proud tradition that runs back not only through 2014 in Ferguson and 1965 in Selma, but back to the 1940s through Woody Guthrie’s guitar, back to the 1840s through the women’s suffrage movement, all the way back to the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Every one of those protesters believed, fundamentally, that the United States should be a place where everyone had an equal chance.
And that’s why we must all do the work—not just those who are oppressed, not just those who are affected by inequality, not just those who suffer, but all of us. The mice and the elephants together.
This work belongs to all of us.
This post originally appeared in The Mouse and the Elephant Weekly. Click here to subscribe.