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Better Together: How Diversity Make Us Stronger

Jen Earle

National CEO, National Association of Women Business Owners

Diversity is a powerful thing. A growing body of research suggests businesses with more diverse leadership teams, boards, and workforces perform better in a wide range of areas, from profitability and innovation to decision-making. That’s not to mention the expanded talent pool, improved recruitment and retention, and more that diversity often brings.

Experiences in diversity

Cristina Morales Heaney, CEO of Texas-based U.S. Safety Services and board chair-elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), is not only a business owner who has experienced the value of a diverse workforce comprising people of different ages, genders, races, education backgrounds, and religious and political beliefs, but also someone of a diverse background herself.

She grew up in the Latino world of small-town Texas, where she worked side-by-side on the cattle ranch with her brothers. She later put herself through college and graduate school, benefitting from the exposure she had during those years to other incredibly diverse young people.

Diversity in the workforce

This set the stage for a successful corporate career and venture into entrepreneurism. In 2005, Heaney purchased a niche home-based business and has since grown it into a top certified first responder organization, employing 80-90 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and other staff members at any given time.

Heaney’s success is due in large part to the diverse organization she’s intentionally built. About a quarter of her employees are women. She also employs military veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and employees of color. “It has been very beneficial to us having a diverse group of employees because clients are going to respond differently to different people,” she shares.

How to promote inclusivity

For businesses looking to be more inclusive, Heaney offers these tips:

  • Actively seek out diverse candidates.
  • Create a sense of belonging.
  • Provide advancement opportunities.
  • Celebrate cultural identities.
  • Make sure everyone feels valued.

While diversity makes us stronger, it’s not always comfortable. You might have to step outside of your comfort zone to find things you can agree on and then move forward together to achieve your goals. However, that small discomfort you might feel at the beginning will be well worth it once you begin seeing all the benefits. 

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