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Steps your small business can take to become more inclusive

Operating an inclusive business is beneficial on so many levels. Not only does it have a positive effect on the bottom line, which we’ll get to in a moment, but having diversity also contributes to attraction and retention of employees.

According to McKinsey research, the most ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform the least ethnically diverse companies. Award-winning talent guru Josh Bersin found that companies with more inclusivity have 2.3 times higher cash flow per employer across a three-year period compared to those with less inclusivity.

In terms of innovation, Boston Consulting Group showed companies with above-average diversity on their management teams had innovation revenue 19% higher than companies with below-average leadership diversity. And if your business is inclusive, you’ll be able to tap into many different workforce pools while enjoying an above-average retention rate.

It’s clear being inclusive is important. Here are a few initiatives you can undertake it in your own business.


Where to start when implementing inclusive practices into your business? Start by educating your employees about the importance of diversity and how it can actually lead to better business and perspectives.

There are myriad programs out there geared toward helping your employees think more about inclusivity in their daily lives. In Greater Des Moines, Tero International, a business training organization, holds inclusivity, diversity and equality training seminars. Something like this will help your employees understand how much everyone benefits from different thoughts and backgrounds when making important business decisions.

While placing inclusivity and diversity among your company’s top priorities is a good step, education from the top-down is a necessary to truly practice what you preach.  

Start out slow

Building a more inclusive culture doesn’t happen overnight. For your company to embrace diverse practices, it’s important to start slow. Build in one or two initiatives that promote diversity and awareness.

Kerri LaRosee, vice president of human capital at the Colony Group, a financial services company, had this to say: “Implementing too many programs at once can be overwhelming and miss the intent of authentically connecting your employees with opportunities to grow.”

One of your first initiatives can be ensuring all your employees can be their true selves at work. Create work programs that tailor to what means the most to them. Encourage giving back, volunteering, donating or any other program that gives your employees an opportunity to celebrate who they are.

Partner with other organizations

Strategic partnerships throughout your community can be a great way to gain new perspectives on different cultures and demographics. Consider partnering with a local homeless shelter or minority-owned business. Meet with them regularly, and ask them about challenges they see in their day-to-day professional lives.

You can even use these partnerships to better your own products or services. Gaining better understanding of other people’s perspectives can help you market to more people and potentially grow your consumer base.

Bring voices to the table

It’s not enough just to have a diverse employee base. Hearing from all perspectives when making decisions is critical to an inclusive culture. Make the extra effort to bring in different voices to the decision-making table, even from individuals who don’t normally speak up.

This doesn’t just mean ethnic diversity — gather all kinds of diversity.  

NAWBO Member Q&A: Karla Rendall

Karla Rendall owns her own insurance agency, offering all kinds of insurance services, including home, auto, personal, umbrella and more. She’s active in the community, serving with NAWBO Iowa, Rebuilding Together Des Moines and at various local animal shelters.

Can you take me through your personal background?

I was born and raised in Cresco, Iowa. After graduation from Crestwood High School, I obtained my bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in the field of education with a minor in special education. I then moved to Des Moines and started an unexpected career in banking for the next 17 years. Most of my banking career was in the retail and commercial area, emphasizing in sales management, commercial lending and cash management. In September 2016, I left the banking world and started my own insurance agency. Me and my husband of 13 years, Dan, and my two boys, Kole and Konnor, live by three rules: serve others as you would like to be served, show kindness and compassion to everyone around you and make God the center of your world.  

What is your profession/business?

I own my own insurance agency. I offer all types of insurance including home, auto, personal umbrella, RV/boat/motorcycle, landlord, vacant home, commercial general liability/workers compensation/umbrella/auto, professional liability, director and officer liability, and life insurance.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

My passion is in educating and advising others to make the best decision possible for their individual needs. Making connections with and building relationships with people is what drives me!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young (and even now), I wanted to be a professional singer and actress.

What’s your favorite food during the holidays?

My favorite food during the holidays is turkey on a doughy bun with butter, salt and pepper. Of course, the baked goods are a close second!