Embracing Inclusivity — Anouk Pappers

Inspiration And Insights
4 min readAug 17, 2023
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Despite corporate America’s committed efforts to foster inclusivity within businesses and organizations, the ascent of women up the corporate hierarchy remains sluggish, and the pursuit of equality appears distant. Recent reports indicate that merely 10% of Fortune 500 companies are led by female CEOs, and only 1% are headed by women of color. Not long ago I came across the Fortune article “DEI Critics are Missing the Point. The Real Story is How Companies Have Been Quietly Backsliding on Diversity and Gender Equity,” authored by Pattie Sellers and Nina Easton. The authors shine a light on the reality of insufficient advancement opportunities for women and individuals of color, even in the presence of established policies. They then go on to dispel the notion that the inclusion of gender diversity in the workplace undermines the strength of American businesses.

The article points out that in the United States the corporate C-Suite is currently comprised of only 26% of women, with 5% being women of color. Part of this stems from the idea that we can’t “have it all.” Successful women are often looked down upon with the presumption that their excellence in the workplace is at the expense of their familial duties. As for successful men, their excellence is touted with unrestricted accolades and no strings attached. In order to get a higher number of women a seat at the table, we need to work towards bridging the knowledge and opportunity gap. “Sustainable change requires intention and personal intervention by CEOs, boards, and other senior leaders — particularly men, who comprise 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs — to reach outside their usual circles to open doors, clear pathways to higher leadership, and candidly share experiences that equipped them to reach at the top.”

Critics claim that these policies can be a recipe for disaster for corporate business growth as it can “divert” a company from its “core mission.” In reality, workplaces today should magnify their focus on embodying a wide array of inclusivity practices in order to nurture a wider range of talents and make room for an eclectic roster of perspectives that can inform better and more well-rounded business decisions. “The most diverse companies typically outperform less diverse peers on profitability. It makes sense: The added experience that comes from diverse teams’ different experiences and backgrounds deepens conversations and broadens the decision-making.” LinkedIn reports show that ethnically inclusive and gender-diverse teams have over a 35% higher productivity rate and a 36 percent higher chance of financial outperformance.

I believe that together, we can collectively impact change and foster a more inclusive business environment by empowering a broader pool of individuals. We should strive to create new opportunities, breaking down barriers and biases that have limited their access to top-tier positions professionally. Let us work towards a society that recognizes and values the unique contributions of all individuals. By embracing and encouraging fresh talents and perspectives from a multitude of people, we can unlock untapped potential and pave the way for a more prosperous future.

Read the Fortune article here

A brand anthropologist who has been storytelling for brands since 2002, Anouk Pappers has interviewed over 1,000 CEOs, CMOs and business owners and published 15 books. Anouk’s primary focus is on working with women and diverse leaders to define their personal brands and pinpoint their narrative. Her company, Signitt, enables people to align their online presence with their personal brand, which positions them to achieve their next professional goal.

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