Why should we include people on the margins? Why should that be our organization’s mission?
The first narrative, and the one that most activists use, is that of justice. Historically, several groups of people have been discriminated against and unfairly denied opportunities. And yes, that is true. This approach relies on the “goodness” of the individuals who are already in power. It appeals to the conscience of the predominantly white, male leaders of organizations to change the status quo. It appeals to people of privilege to accommodate more immigrants and refugees. But it does so by using pity and shame.
The second narrative is underutilized – that of potential. Copious research shows how adopting a truly inclusive approach has incredible benefits. Organizations become more effective and profitable. Countries become more vibrant, peaceful and harmonious. In Seth Godin’s words, when you have only knives in your kitchen, what you can cook is very limited. When you have ladles, bowls, whisks and colanders, you can conjure up a wider variety of delicacies.
We have been appealing to people’s conscience for far too long. We now have data to support another argument – one that recognizes how inclusion leads to a better world not just through a moral lens, but also through creativity and profitability. Despite our best intentions, we continue to do disservice to the worthy, but marginalized by neglecting their potential, .