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The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion: Presentation by Dr. Tony Byers at Boise State’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit

By Micaela Smith, Blue Sky Graduate Assistant and Class of 2020 MBA Student
Dr. Tony Byers
Dr. Tony Byers, former Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Starbucks, delivered his keynote speech on “The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion” to 300 attendees at Boise State’s Fourth Annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit on October 23rd.

Attendees spanned the business, nonprofit, higher education and government sectors, and heard Byers challenge traditional quota-filling strategies of diversity. He stressed the importance of the inclusion aspect in any organization.

“Diversity doesn’t work without inclusion,”said Byers. “An organization can be diverse but not inclusive. What we really have to drive is behavior change–a mind change–in order for this to work.”

Typically, companies want to go after a diverse market segment right away in their diversity and inclusion business strategy, but that usually fails, Byers explained. “You don’t start at ‘we’re going after the marketplace,’ you start with building a foundation. But every leader just wants to start [at the marketplace], because they want the benefits of engaging with the diverse community. When you take that kind of approach, that is actually not building a relationship, that’s actually predatory. You’re going after a group just because you want their money.”

Dr. Byers proposed his alternative approach, “The Multiplier Effect of Inclusion”: businesses can achieve great market success by multiplying together diversity, inclusive behaviors, and innovation in a product or service.

With a diverse set of thinkers, Byers said, the market gap is much easier to identify. Diverse organizations “outperform their peers by an average of 26% in the S&P markets” and are 70% more likely to capture new markets. They also “gain more than two times the utilization of their talent inside of their organization.”

“It’s not the ‘having diversity’ that gets you those benefits, it’s a different behavior… Inclusion is [the] practice of behaviors,” Byers said.

Attendance was at a record high, doubling the turnout from the last year’s Summit. The event was hosted by Boise State’s Blue Sky Institute, Wells Fargo, Boise Cascade, Boise Valley Economic Partnership, and University of Idaho-Boise. Sponsors included Wells Fargo, Boise Cascade, Micron, Happy Family, HP, Saint Alphonsus, Idaho Power, St. Luke’s and the City of Boise, as well as Boise State’s Office of the Provost, College of Health Science, School of Public Service, College of Engineering and College of Business and Economics.

The Summit’s opening speakers focused on ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion within the Treasure Valley. Attendees heard from Angela Taylor, co-founder and director of The Dignitas Agency and Dr. Tony Roark, interim provost of Boise State University.

The Blue Sky Institute also presented Wells Fargo with an award for their outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion in Idaho and their longstanding partnership in the Responsible Business Initiative.

The summit closed out with Boise State’s Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion, Francisco Salinas, who encouraged attendees to take a few minutes before leaving to connect with someone with a different perspective and schedule a time to get coffee together. This straightforward call to action ensures that Summit attendees take responsibility for furthering diversity and inclusion efforts in our communities.

“You’re the key to this whole thing,” Byers said. “Diversity is a noun. It describes who you are. Inclusion is is a verb. It describes what you do.”