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The Price of Exclusion: Calculating the True Cost of Not Embracing Inclusion

I was watching a webinar the other day by the Diversity Institute about the 50 - 30 challenge*, and a statement was made by one of the presenters that really resonated with me.  I don’t remember the quote exactly, but it was something along the lines of “it’s not about buy-in anymore for diversity and inclusion, it’s more about what it will cost companies who do NOT adopt inclusive practices. They’ll be left in the dust.” 

So, what is cost?

It is the cause to pay, suffer, or lose something. It means that by not adopting inclusive practices, your business suffers. You lose something. There is a price. Without a doubt, it requires effort and an investment.

There have been many strong arguments about why inclusion is a smart business decision, and we know it has it's own costs, such as time, effort, and financial investment into policy development, training and development, evaluation, and so forth.

But have you ever considered that the cost of NOT adopting inclusive practices far outweighs the cost of implementing them?


Before we get into the costs, let’s look at what I mean by “not embracing inclusion.”  Some people may try to argue out of diversity and inclusion by being anti-woke, scared of change, more concerned with merit, afraid of tokenism, stereotypical, or a traditionalist. What we are referring to here is the fairness and impartiality in opportunities, treatment, and outcomes for all individuals, regardless of their perceptions, identities and backgrounds they bring to work, and ensuring everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their potential.  We aren't talking about giving people special treatment. We're talking about fairness.

There are internal and external costs.  We’re not just talking about financial costs, either. We are also talking about reputation and public perception.

First, let's dive into the internal costs. 

Finding Top Talent

With the vast majority (75%) of the workforce being millennials by 2030 (Forbes), people are going to want to work for companies that align with their values. And yes, millennials value inclusion, belonging, transparency, and social impact. Additionally, by not prioritizing inclusive practices, you are missing out on prospective top talent that could bring so much value.

High Turnover and Retention Costs 

When someone doesn’t feel like they belong, and aren’t valued or heard, they will leave. Constantly having to recruit, train, and maintain a high level of productivity can be extremely expensive and time consuming. 

Lack of Innovation

A homogenous workforce lacks an environment for coming up with innovative and creative strategies and solutions. This will keep you far behind your competitors.  If you prioritize inclusion and retaining diverse talent, you get different perspectives, enhanced problem-solving, increased adaptability and flexibility, and less groupthink, which prioritizes conformity.

Lack of Morale and Productivity

Inclusive practices contribute to a positive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and motivated. On the other hand, exclusionary practices can lead to decreased morale, disengagement, and lower productivity levels among employees.

Externally, it’s about the reputation and public consciousness of your business. 

Public Perception

If everyone who works at your company looks one certain way, which is different from how I look, I may not feel comfortable doing business there. I’m also going to tell my friends and family members about it too.  This can damage the public perception of a company. This negative perception can damage the company's brand image, customer loyalty, and market reputation, leading to loss of business opportunities and revenue.

Legal Risks

Depending on your jurisdiction, you can face issues with discrimination or harassment based on factors such as race, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation which can lead to costly legal consequences. Non-compliance with diversity and inclusion regulations can have serious and expensive legal outcomes.

Missed Opportunities for Good Business Decisions

Without diverse perspectives and inclusive decision-making processes, you run the risk of making decisions that are not well-informed, lack sensitivity to diverse customer needs, or overlook potential risks and challenges.

 Overall, the cost of not adopting inclusive practices extends beyond financial implications and can impact various aspects of business performance, culture, reputation, and long-term sustainability. If you want your business to be innovative, have positive employee engagement, and a competitive advantage in the marketplace, inclusion can no longer be ignored.

*if you don’t know what the 50 - 30 challenge is, read more about it here


Hi, I'm Samantha, an Inclusive Leadership Coach that is eager to support you with breaking free & living a limitless authentic life after being pushed aside in society. Think of it as solution focused Coaching with a social justice twist. Whatever you want to work on, leadership or otherwise, you'll transform your life and experience shifts you never thought possible.

As a person obsessed with leadership, I want to see an increase the number of equity-deserving people - women, racialized, disabled and 2SLGBTQIA+ folks - in leadership roles. I want to create the most diverse and equitable workforce where everyone can bring their full authentic selves to work.

Interested in assessing whether a company has inclusive practices? Download your FREE two-page Inclusive Workplace Checklist here.

Book a no obligation discovery call here.

Keep in touch here.


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