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The Importance of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – A Critical Intersection for Business Success

There’s no denying the world is becoming smaller and more interconnected. As a result, societies as well as businesses are becoming increasingly diverse. This is not something that is necessarily being actively pursued. Instead, it’s more of a reflection of international travel, Internet connectivity, and multinational companies expanding across the globe. But more and more businesses are appreciating the importance of diversity as well as inclusive and equitable practices. It will be these companies that will be best positioned for future success. This simply isn’t a generic statement but instead one backed up by hard facts and data.

Understanding this, diversity, inclusion, equity should be an important mantra for businesses when looking ahead. This is especially true for tech companies. (Read more about the diversity issues tech companies face in this Bold story.) Adopting strategies that cultivate such work settings and cultures can help companies gain a unique competitive advantage in the marketplace. But doing so takes planning, effort, and a commitment of resources in order to achieve such environments. Only by recognizing the benefits that diversity, equity and inclusion in business offers will enterprises invest in these areas. And the following provides a brief overview that should help convince any business this is a smart strategy for the future.

“In order to drive change, an effective diversity, inclusion, and belonging strategy needs to be integrated into your larger business strategy and include broad-based accountability. Accountability, starting with leaders, is essential.” – Yetta Toliver, Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, Xerox

A Snapshot Now and Into the Future

When it comes to the importance of diversity and inclusion in business, statistics don’t lie. Indeed, White individuals comprise the racial today at around 76 percent. But that won’t be for long. Over the next 2 decades, racial minorities in the U.S. will have attained majority status. And by 2065, there will be no single racial or ethnic majority on the planet. These predictions are based in part on past changes. For example, Millennials are 16 percent more diverse in ethnicity that Baby Boomers. But these projections are also based on an accelerated pace of diversity stemming from increased globalization.

While the importance of diversity may seem quite evident based on these stats, the same may not be true for equity and inclusion. Especially when it comes to gender, notable inequities remain and quite significant. For example, the average gender gap in pay is roughly 17 percent. As a result, fewer and fewer women are participating in the workforce. Likewise, less than 4 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs are women. This is despite the fact that more women than men are college-educated. Similar statistics are also evidence for racial minorities and for those with disabilities. If businesses truly want to excel, these figures need to shift. Greater equity and inclusion in business is a must in an effort to thrive in the coming decades.

“Don’t be shy about starting something small and getting as many people involved and engaged as you can, because it will build.” – Dion Harrison, Chief Diversity Officer, Elevate Credit

The Importance of Diversity for Success

Accommodating a more diverse workforce and global population should be a good reason to promote inclusion in business. But additional data makes this even more clear. When it comes to diverse management, businesses on average earn 19 percent more in revenues. Likewise, diverse companies also enjoy 2.3 times as much cash flow per employee compared to poorly diverse businesses. Even those who have more varied Boards of Directors outperform other companies by more than 40 percent. Therefore, not only does greater diversity make intuitive sense. It also improves a business’ bottom line.

A graph with a woman and man standing on some coins
The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in business cannot be overstated–especially when it comes to a happy and productive workforce.

These figures generally refer to the importance of diversity from all perspectives including race and gender. But in looking at gender diversity specifically, additional data also support the importance of diversity as well. Executive teams who have increased gender diversity average 21 percent more profits than those that don’t. Gender diverse teams also enjoy 27 percent greater value creation and 15 percent higher performance. These same teams have also been shown to be better at decision-making abilities. Based on research, diverse teams are 87 percent better in this regard, which naturally fosters greater success. (Read about how diversity in leadership is a cornerstone of business success in this Bold story.)

“It’s absolutely crucial that the CEO be engaged, that [diversity, equity and inclusion] be top of mind, and that they focus on it and talk about it often. If it is buried within the organization—underfunded, understaffed, gets a lot of lip service—that doesn’t get the job done.” – Edna Kane-Williams, Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, AARP

Equity and Inclusion in Business Are Also Data-Supported

When it comes to equity, businesses need to invest in equal opportunities for all members. When they do, they reap significant benefits that they might not otherwise appreciate. Based on statistical models, a more equitable workforce would increase the national GDP by 26 percent. In real dollars, that means roughly $28 trillion! Likewise, on an individual company basis, those pursuing equity in gender enjoy 41 percent more in revenues companies to inequitable organizations. While these figures are impressive, similar ones also exist for racial and generational equity endeavors as well.

Inclusion in business is vital for success as well. A diverse team and workforce are great, but without inclusion, many benefits are lost. Inclusion in business is needed to encourage engagement and participation. When this occurs, tremendous results follow. For example, inclusive companies have 1.7 times more innovation than others, and they also earn 2.3 times the amount of cash flow. Inclusive companies are also 120 percent more likely to hit financial targets and earn 1.4 times more in revenues. These are pretty astounding statistics that further support why equity and inclusion in business are essential.

Pursuing a Clear Path to Future Success

The evidence is clear…diversity, equity and inclusion should be a primary focus for businesses striving to be success. Those that recognize the important of diversity, equity and inclusion in business will invest in specific strategies to achieve these goals. Using the most common and important diversity, equity and inclusion metrics is a great starting point. These provide the inspiration and motivation for change that will ultimately put a business in the best position to succeed.

 

Defining diversity, equity and inclusion for business can be difficult – get the free six-page handout that can help put you on the right track!

Will You Ride the SpaceX Shuttle to the Moon? – NASA Hopes So

It’s been several decades since the Apollo mission and since mankind has visited the moon. But a new space race is on, and NASA has full intentions of returning to the moon soon. But one thing’s notably different in NASA’s approach today compared to years past as it increasingly relies on private industry. With recent successes with SpaceX, Boeing, and others, NASA appreciates how private business can help them achieve their mission. In fact, NASA is now relying on these types of companies to reestablish human travel to the moon in the near future.

Recently, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9-billion-contract to develop a Human Landing System (HLS) for astronauts’ return to the moon. Of course, this isn’t the first collaboration between SpaceX and NASA, nor will it be the last. The contract helps support SpaceX’s own vision of broadening human travel to the moon. That means not only for astronauts but for other private space travelers as well. Elon Musk has even admitted his plan to offer elite trips to the moon for some by 2023. Thus, it appears that SpaceX and NASA have similar goals, which likely increases the odds for success.

“This is an exciting time for NASA and especially the Artemis team. By taking a collaborative approach in working with industry while leveraging NASA’s proven technical expertise and capabilities, we will return American astronauts to the Moon’s surface once again, this time to explore new areas for longer periods of time.” – Lisa Watson-Morgan, Program Manager for HLS at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

The Lunar Vision for SpaceX and NASA

Human travel to the moon is something that is critical to the new space economy. (Read more about the Space Economy and where it stands in 2021 in this Bold story.) From NASA’s perspective, they launched the Artemis Project in 2017 with these goals in mind. Not only can an active and routine space travel program boost national security efforts. It also opens up potentially new business opportunities for economic growth and development. SpaceX envisions the same type of future, which is why Elon Musk is heavily invested in space development. A Human Landing System would be a major step in establishing the necessary infrastructure to realize such visions.

NASA has already enjoyed significant success with missions to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX played an important role in this regard, especially with its recent crewed missions to the ISS via its Crew Dragon. The ability to meet mission requirements successfully awarded the company high marks. The trust that developed between SpaceX and NASA played a likely role in the recent decision regarding the HLS. NASA chose to forego bids by Blue Origin and Dynetics in favor of Elon Musk’s company. SpaceX’s lower bid price certainly was a factor, but so was its recent track record of success with NASA.

“Given the evaluation of the three proposals based on technical approach, cost, and management approach, and the budget we have available, we determined the best way forward for us was to select SpaceX for Option A, and then move forward and accelerate the landing services procurement.” – Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s Acting Administrator

But How Safe Is Human Travel to the Moon?

For many, the memories of the Space Shuttle Challenger still exist, which creates anxieties about human travel to the moon. And if spacecraft explosions are reason to provoke additional worries, then you might not be convinced SpaceX will succeed. The spacecraft that SpaceX and NASA hope to use for the HLS is named Starship. In theory, a total of 4 astronauts will travel into lunar orbit inside Lockheed Martin’s Orion. From there, the reusable Starship will transport 2 of the crew to the lunar surface and back. All of this is expected to be achieved by 2024.

A SpaceX hangar in Florida
SpaceX and NASA together might soon be sending people back to the moon – would you go?

Unfortunately, the Starship has yet to enter into Earth’s orbit, and several recent tests have ended in explosions. The last 4 prototypes of the Starship, SN8-SN11, have all failed to accomplish their missions. This has led many to believe that human travel to the moon may take much longer than expected. But SpaceX and NASA seemed undeterred. Elon Musk’s bold philosophy to push the boundaries during testing increases the odds of such mishaps. (Read more about Elon Musk’s bold leadership in this Bold Business profile.) But at the same time, it also advances progress and learning more rapidly. For them, this is simply par for the course. With ach launch, improvements are made and insights are gained. Based on this, SpaceX and NASA believe they are right on track.

“Since January 2020, SpaceX has built 10 Starship prototypes, with production and fidelity accelerating on each build. SpaceX has manufactured and tested more than 60 of Starship’s Raptor engines, accumulating nearly 30,000 seconds of total test time over 567 engine starts, including on multiple Starship static fires and flight tests.” – SpaceX Company Statement

The Innovations and Other Advantages of Private Industry

To develop the scope of human travel to the moon that SpaceX and NASA envision will not be easy. But the public-private partnership emerging between the 2 enterprises highlights why these arrangements are critical. For one, SpaceX has revolutionized the space aeronautical sector with its unique approach to research and testing. Likewise, its creative innovations related to reusable rockets and components have created an array of new opportunities. But at the same time, NASA is benefitted from SpaceX’s private investments. Given its limited budget from Congress, NASA is counting on SpaceX funding a sizable portion of the initial progress. Without such supports, it’s unlikely human travel to moon would happen as quickly.

The overall plan for NASA’s Artemis Program is to initially have un-crewed lunar flights followed by crewed flights that perform fly-bys. If these are successful, then a human landing will be planned for the south lunar pole, hopefully in 2024. This seems like a fast-paced schedule that might be hard for SpaceX to maintain. But Musk is optimistic. In fact, he envisions not only developing the HLS for the moon but using it for space travel to Mars. These are the kind of advantages that public-private partnerships offers to space travel. And hopefully also make human travel to the moon both safe and accessible.

 

Defining diversity, equity and inclusion for business can be difficult – get the free six-page handout that can help put you on the right track!

Digital Ads Strike Back – But Will These Digital Marketing Trends Last?

Consumer shifts were dramatic over the last year to say the least. The pandemic forced shoppers inside resulting in a boom in e-commerce traffic. Combined with more efficient delivery offerings, the come-to-me economy was born. (What is the Come-to-Me Economy? Check out this Bold story and find out.) But e-commerce wasn’t the only thing that changed. Everyone spent more time online for other activities including entertainment streaming and gaming. All of this meant that retailers and other advertisers had to change the way they reached their markets. New digital marketing insights were needed if companies were to compete. And it’s led to some major shifts in digital advertising trends as a result.

On average, digital advertising trends have been on the rise over the last year. As consumers moved out of stores and onto the Internet, businesses had to follow. Because of this, ad spending on all types of digital media has increased by about 18 percent on average. For some, they have seen revenues grow by as much as 30 percent in the last year alone. But questions remain as to whether these digital advertising trends have staying power as we emerge from COVID’s stronghold. Depending on which digital marketing insights one considers, the answer seems to vary significantly.

“The venture capital world spent a decade betting against advertising, and it’s about to blow up in their faces.” – Bryan Goldberg, CEO of Bustle

Changing Digital Advertising Trends

Over the last decade, there have been growth in digital advertising. Greater Internet and mobile use naturally fueled these behaviors. But since 2017, industries and businesses have pulled back a bit in favor of other marketing strategies. At least in the last few years, digital marketing insights have favored subscription services. (Read about the dramatic rise of the subscription-based fee model in this Bold story.) This approach allows a more reliable and predictable revenues stream for companies that are appealing to investors. But that has recently changed as consumers have a growing number of non-subscription choices. With online activity skyrocketing, there has been a dilution effect that has seen digital advertising trends change.

Notably, Google and Facebook have long enjoyed revenues from digital advertising trends. In fact, together they account for 87 percent of all digital advertising growth. Likewise, Amazon now accounts for 10 percent of all digital advertising dollars. It recently began charging its merchants for advertising their products on Amazon. Thus, they too claim a chunk of these revenues. But in the last year, companies are seeking our smaller digital media platforms based on new digital marketing insights. Ad revenues for these companies have increased between 25 and 30 percent since the pandemic began.

“I don’t know that I could’ve predicted it at this level. We haven’t seen digital advertising growth in high double digits since maybe 2017.” – Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media Group

Differing Digital Marketing Insights and Opinions

The recent boom in digital advertising trends is both logical and expected given how markets have changed. And as might be anticipated, retailers have led the way by investing more and more into digital ads. But they are not the only ones. In addition to retail companies, automotive, financial and telecommunications companies have also jumped on board the digital advertising trends. Even digital subscription companies like Netflix have found it necessary to sell their products on digital ads as well. All of this have many believing digital advertising is back in a big way.

Someone looking at a digital ad on their phone
The rise of the subscription-based revenue generation model has been curtailed a bit by the resurgence of digital ads.

But not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. While the pandemic forced consumers online and stimulated growing digital advertising trends, it taught other lessons as well. Many businesses were forced to cut back on advertising spending out of financial necessity. When they did so, they realized that they were not generating the return on investment they thought they were. In essence, the key performance indicators they were using to justify their digital ads didn’t really equate to sales. As a result, digital marketing insights gained from the last year have led them to pull away from digital ads. Companies like Airbnb reduced their digital ad spending by $800 million last year and have no plans to return to this level. The investments simply weren’t worth it.

“What the pandemic showed is [Airbnb] can take marketing down to zero and still have 95% of the same traffic as the year before. So, we’re not going to forget that lesson.” – Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb

The Truth Is Often in the Middle

While differing opinions exist about the future of digital advertising trends, some things are likely to occur. Digital marketing insights over time have shown that digital ads tend to rise and fall cyclically. Often, this occurs with economic cycles. But currently, the pandemic has certainly accounted for some of these changes as well. In any case, it’s unlikely that digital advertising trends will continue to grow at double-digit rates for years to come. We may be entering a roaring 20s situation where they will thrive. But history has taught us that enduring growth in advertising rates isn’t very likely.

On the other hand, there is no question that a critical shift has occurred in many consumer markets. People are much more comfortable with online and mobile platforms. Therefore, digital advertising trends will still see healthy growth over time. The more intriguing question is whether this growth will be enjoyed by a few major players like Facebook. Or will the wealth be spread around to other media businesses as well. This will greatly depend on how anti-trust legislation evolves in the future. Unless something changes, it will remain difficult for smaller digital media groups to earn their fair share of this growth.

A Respectable Share of the Advertising Pie

In 2020, global digital advertising spending was $333 billion with $140 in the U.S. alone. Subsequent digital advertising trends then increased global figures to $389 billion in 2021. With current digital marketing insights, they are expected to reach $526 billion by 2024. Based on these projections, it appears digital advertising has secured a stronghold as a result of consumer shifts. Thus, while digital subscriptions will continue to limit their attractiveness, they will remain a viable part of any marketing strategy.

 

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