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How to Harness Inclusion as a Competitive Advantage

The Charter Leadership Forum is a new feature highlighting answers from experts to leadership and workplace questions. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity. You can send questions you want to see answered to


Iman Abuzeid

Co-founder and CEO, Incredible Health

Be proactive to avoid “diversity debt.”

Diversity at a company leads to better financial performance, more innovation, and teams that make better and faster decisions. Another competitive advantage of diverse teams is winning the war for talent. Most millennials give a “great deal” or “fair amount” of importance to gender and ethnicity diversity when considering what companies to work for

I encourage leaders to build diverse teams from the start so they do not accumulate “diversity debt,” a concept similar to “technical debt.” By choosing the quick and easy approach of building a homogenous team at first, it is increasingly more difficult to fix later because most talent prefers not to join homogenous teams.



Michelle Yu

Co-founder and CEO, Josie

Focus on areas for improvement.


  • Your recruiting game. Happy employees are one of the best marketing and recruiting tools. Tell their stories, share them on your website, podcast, recruiting materials, blog, social media—the next generation of top talent is paying attention.
  • Your supplier resume. Strong inclusion game = bragging rights. You deliver a great product or service—so do your competitors. Stand out by showing off your Best Place to Work credentials, DEIB progress, and retention metrics.
  • Your leadership skills. Ask this one question to your DEIB leaders: “What’s one thing I can do better or differently as a leader to create a more inclusive environment for our employees?”



Mita Mallick

Head of DEI, Carta & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Reimagine Inclusion

Employee retention is a retention driver.

Inclusion drives productivity, uncovers opportunities, and acts as a retention tool. 

Most of us want to contribute at work. But what if the environment doesn’t allow you to? Your ability to contribute drops. Your energy is spent worrying if you belong. Imagine the hours lost that can’t be recovered.

In my book, Reimagine Inclusion: Debunking 13 Myths to Transform Your Workplace, I share that the multicultural consumer’s spending power is $5 trillion. This doesn’t include veterans, individuals with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, and more. When we think there’s no growth possible, let’s ask: Who are we selling to? Who are we excluding?

Employees don’t stay for perks. When individuals feel included in their workplaces, they are less likely to look elsewhere.  



Tony Gentilcore

Co-founder and product engineering lead, Glean

Diverse teams boost innovation potential.

When looking to hire and build a tech team, prioritizing inclusion opens the door for colleagues with different perspectives and backgrounds, encouraging fresh ideas and boosting innovation. The diverse backgrounds of our team has concretely improved our product’s fit with a similarly diverse set of users from around the world. Our hiring philosophy has been to hire smart, high-achieving problem solvers. We're scrappy, but we build it right. We pride ourselves on approaching problems with complete intellectual honesty, and not ego. From day one, our team has been laser-focused on building a lasting product together.



Dr. Asima Ahmad

Co-founder and chief medical officer, Carrot Fertility 

Prioritize cultural competency and personalization.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are foundational to our success as a company. As a global fertility care platform, harnessing the benefits of inclusion extends beyond just diversity within our workforce. It also means recognizing and addressing the unique needs and experiences of the diverse members we serve. This means offering personalized care plans to ensure each person or couple we work with receives the best possible care for them. Whether it's matching our members with a BIPOC provider, connecting them with an LGBTQ+ expert, or having our platform translated end-to-end into 10 different languages, providing culturally competent and inclusive care has helped us to transform people’s lives around the globe. 



Jordan Taylor

Co-founder, Medley

Foster inclusive teams, don’t just talk about it.

There is ample data showing that diverse workforces equate to better business outcomes. Inclusion—creating an environment where everyone, no matter their background, feels seen and supported and can perform to their potential—is the most critical part of that. It’s a leader’s job to set the foundation for this, and that doesn’t mean just talking about it, but ensuring that the systems and processes in place do everything to enhance inclusivity. Business outcomes will follow.



Suman Siva

Co-founder and CEO, Marco Experiences

Recognize differences in cultures rather than flatten them.

In a more global and distributed and flexible world, inclusion is a must. At Marco, we have a global team with people in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, and the Philippines. Flexible and distributed companies like ours have employees that have different religions, cultures, rituals, and personalities. Our differences make us stronger, and our company is better for them.

Leaders being intentional about inclusion will (a) increase retention, productivity, and happiness for existing employees, and  (b) allow them to attract new employees who are different.


©2024, Charter Works, Inc. This article is reprinted with permission from Charter Works, Inc. All rights reserved.


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