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How to start a diversity and inclusion program in your business

Download a step-by-step diversity and inclusion planning guide to help your company -- no matter its size -- develop and implement a successful D&I initiative.

The evidence is compelling. Study after study has shown that businesses with diverse and inclusive workforces drive more innovation, increased productivity and higher profitability.

But for many small and medium business owners, knowing how to instill diversity and inclusion (D&I) can be a challenge when they are already overwhelmed trying to keep up with customer demands and other workforce issues. A CompTIA study revealed that many companies want a little help. They don't know where to start, or they don't have the time and resources to dedicate to a diversity initiative, or they think they're too small for it to matter.

On the contrary, research suggests it's just as important for smaller businesses to think about diversity and to try to represent the broader communities that they serve, both in terms of customers and their employee base. SMBs can reap the same benefits as large enterprises if they truly commit to a D&I plan. With that in mind, members of CompTIA's Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community developed a Diversity and Inclusion Plan for Technology SMBs, a step-by-step guide and checklist that any business can follow to reap some of the benefits of acquiring and retaining diverse, inclusive workforces.

Implementing a successful, scalable and sustainable diversity strategy will ultimately reap benefits -- and your path to get there will determine how quickly those results get realized. According to McKinsey's Delivering Through Diversity report, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation. And the inverse is true: A lack of diversity can actually hurt a firm's profits. Companies in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnic/cultural diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability.

Diversity and Inclusion Plan for Technology SMBs

Get started on your diversity and inclusion program with this planning guide.

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Implementing a D&I strategy can also contribute to positive brand sentiment among your customers and business partners. Business owners should plan on how to recruit, keep and optimize diverse talent, and also seek out business partners and collaborators that consider diversity a priority. Working with suppliers committed to diversity can provide extra benefits as those companies outperform non-diverse competitors and can open doors to new markets, customers and opportunities.

In developing this plan, CompTIA surveyed more than 200 solution providers to understand the complexities and challenges faced when planning and executing D&I initiatives. The practices described in this guide can apply to most SMBs -- about 6 million alone in the U.S. that meet the Small Business Administration's definition of an SMB (one to 500 employees).

Of course, each individual company is likely to face its own challenges as well, all of which should be considered when launching a plan in order to realize maximum results. Consider this guide as a tool to assist your organization in navigating some of those complexities.

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