Over the last few decades, concepts of equality, non-discrimination, diversity & inclusion have been expressed and espoused by many leading lights in business and society. This global debate has more recently washed onto Irish shores and with the advent of marriage equality in 2015 and the appointment of a young, openly gay, ethnically diverse Taoiseach (Prime Minister), there is a strengthened momentum for change.
And yet, such change has been glacial across all aspects of diversity.
In Ireland, women account for only 22% of its politicians and a dismal 5% of CEOs. Those with disabilities suffer an increasing spread of inequality, rising unemployment levels and increased poverty risks, while the rest of society prospers in one of the fastest growing and richest economies in the EU. Bias (conscious and otherwise) remains widespread against all minority groupings and perpetuates the inequalities and barriers to equal opportunity and progression. For too long, this debate has been in the shadow of focussed, vehement minority groups or in the ‘soft’ space of HR and Learning & Development.
Having spent over 20 years working in international financial services, living in several countries and having managed inclusion & diversity programmes for a global financial player, I’ve had the opportunity to experience and study this in some detail. I have come to realise that a new approach is both badly needed and, encouragingly in my view, also possible with a different perspective. Now is the time to address the well-documented issues with the power and leverage of the multiplier effect of one’s passion and purpose in life, as I describe below.
When establishing my specialist inclusion & diversity advisory firm in 2016, I realised that to progress the debate, it was time to shift the discussion from ‘doing good’ to ‘being good for business’. By examining inclusion under the spotlight of tangible, measurable, bottom-line impact, I believe that sustainable success (using a broad definition of ‘profit’ as a measure) can be understood and achieved. This success is made up of two ingredients – passion and purpose.
one must identify, encourage & develop the passion in you and in others and this drives a resilient relentlessness to achieve change and sustain impact in your chosen arena.
the need for diversity and the power of the inclusion of diverse elements is both a pressing concern and a deeply purposeful commitment. It has a significant and increasing influence on us as individuals, our families & communities, our businesses and society as a whole. It is not a one-size-fits-all agenda – we now realise that gender equality is not a women’s issue; awareness of the challenges of the LGBT community is as important for their allies; disability rights affect us all and so on.
The multiplier effect – the ‘profit’ motive. Let’s not feel guilty about it. Just like the conversation around corporate responsibility has shifted in the last 10-15 years from one of compliance to one of competitive advantage, so too this is true for diversity & inclusion. It is no longer just about compliance with appropriate or minimum standard regulations and policies & procedures, but instead is a determined focus on delivering sustained, improved business and civic performance.
Why? Put simply, what is good for organisations and institutions can also be good for us as individuals and for society as a whole. Moreover, by compounding one’s passion with one’s purpose, the output is multiplied and accelerated so as to deliver a profitable result
Purpose X Passion = Profit.
Yes, I am a profit maximiser. But before you think I’m just a cynical, money-obsessed capitalist, let’s think about how we define ‘profit’. Standard dictionary definitions focus on profit as an ‘advantage, benefit or gain’. Of course, I could easily categorise the outcome as ‘performance’ or ‘progress’ – however, I believe ‘profit’ is a more suitable and relevant description.
So, by focussing on profit as an outcome, I am offering a series of alternative definitions – a benefit to an individual, a firm and/or society as a whole. And that benefit can be measured in material or pecuniary terms or indeed can be categorised within broader concepts of advantage to people and their communities in terms of how they interact, operate and integrate.
It is purposeful to follow, with passion, a profit motive, especially when profit is treated as a broad term. As we gear up for 2018 and lay plans for success – personal & professional, individual & group – let’s consider the multiplier effect of compounding one’s passion with one’s purpose (both engaging the other for the accumulation of profit i.e. advantage/benefit/gain).
Happy New Year to you all. I encourage everyone to go forth and pursue his or her purpose with passion and I guarantee that you (and others) will profit from it!
Want to know more?
Contact me on email@example.com or via my website www.masf.ie