Want to learn how to be a successful entrepreneur? Are you curious about how to make your business model broader and more inclusive? In our video series “Diversity in Business” we talk to a range of successful entrepreneurs on all topics relating to business and human rights -- from how to start your business to how to amplify voices that are often overlooked in the business world. Stemming from the U.S. Department of State’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India, we facilitated a series of conversations to learn more about finance, management, mentorship, strategic growth and how to achieve success in business through inclusion and diversity.
Diversity in Business: Prosperity for All
“It’s about hearing voices that are authentic.”
–Audrey Bracey Deegan
In our first discussion, our panelists discussed how entrepreneurs can enter the market and be successful, despite perceived barriers. The panelists included Audrey Bracey Deegan of Step by Step Worldwide and Desiree Stolar, an entrepreneur featured on the television show Shark Tank. During the chat, the panelists explored how women have many challenges in the workforce, but can also leverage their perspective and skills to their advantage.
Being the only person with a particular identity or perspective in a room gives an entrepreneur a platform to advocate for their business in a different way, and can help open up fields that have challenges attaining diversity. The panelists explained that diversity can increase a business’s ability to market itself to a wide variety of consumers, which can include investors. The panelists also discussed how to inspire more women entrepreneurs and businesswomen, such as through hiring diverse leadership and making sure different perspectives are taken into account when developing products and services.
“We have all heard the quote ’be the change you want to be in the world‘. If you have been brought into an organization that is trying to elevate and champion other women, you yourself could help facilitate that.”
Diversity in Business: Tools for Success
“One of the most important things is being authentic and willing to share your story.”
– Rahama Wright
In our second video focused on diversity in business, we interviewed Rahama Wright, the founder of Shea Yaleen, and Susan Chodakewitz, President and CEO of Nathan Associates. As successful women in business, the panelists discussed their tips for success from idea conception to marketing the final product.
The two panelists offered advice on how to gain mentors and potential investors, how to engage with your workforce and how to listen to your customer base. Both contributors emphasized the importance of time management and networking, and noted it is essential to integrate into communities of like-minded individuals to share best practices. The panelists also stressed the importance of constant internal evaluation, to make sure employees are being heard, to understand where finances are going, and to prepare for possible challenges.
“It is not just bringing the right people around the table but creating an environment and a culture in which people can really challenge each other to use the diversity for the best possible approach, solutions and thinking.”
Business and Human Rights
“When you get different perspectives, views, opinions, beliefs, backgrounds, experiences in the room -- that is where innovation and creativity are born.”
In our latest installment in our series on business and diversity, our panelists discussed the importance of incorporating many different perspectives and voices when developing a business plan. The panel included Dominique Samar, the co-founder of the P3 Development group, a group that advocates diverse hiring practices, and Diego Mariscal, the founder and CEO of 2Gether-International.org, which advocates for people with disabilities in the workforce. Both Diego and Dominique highlighted the importance of seeing diversity as an asset.
While many big companies have already embraced the importance of a diverse workforce, there is still a lot of room of improvement. For example, the abilities and skills of individuals from marginalized communities are often underestimated or overlooked. Companies that aim to have a successful workforce need to understand and implement practices that foster diversity and inclusion.
“Looking at diversity, specifically disability, as an identity, as an asset, as something that contributes to the conversation. Thinking about the inclusion of people with disabilities is not just going to make you feel better, but it’s going to make you work better, operate better and produce better results.”
About the Author: Sara Brouda serves as an Intern in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Office of at the U.S. Department of State.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.