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Why focusing on inclusion and diversity is profitable for your company

Illustration of business people from different backgrounds and abilities
llustration Credit: Trace Byrd for Facebook, Inc

The inclusion of new voices and perspectives represents an important challenge for the European book industry. We believe in building a more diverse and inclusive book sector together, and that Every Effort Matters. Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s actually profitable to invest time, effort and resources in diversity and inclusion. Why? Here are three financial reasons for focussing on diversity and inclusion, and one example of good practice

1 Diverse teams = financial profit

Various research reports demonstrate that teams that are diverse in terms of gender, origin, skin colour and other aspects perform significantly better. McKinsey & Company has analysed data about diversity and inclusion from fifteen countries and more than 1,000 large companies. According to its latest report (2020), there is a strong relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood they will outperform others financially. In other words, it’s likely that companies with diverse corporate leadership (in terms of both gender and ethnic or cultural background) will make greater profits than companies with homogenous executive teams.

2 Demand for diverse storytelling

One of the main ways for a business to succeed is by maintaining a healthy balance between what it offers and the demands of its consumers. Over the last few years, there has been a considerable shift in consumers’ expectations. An American report by Adobe showed that no less than 62% of consumers value inclusive marketing by companies.

The picture is no different for literature. Changes in the audience’s expectations of storytelling are inviting the book sector to include more diverse characters and lifestyles. The book trade, as part of the culture industry, needs to consider changes in its audience. A literature sector that lacks inclusive stories risks missing out on a large group of consumers.

3 Expectations of Gen Z and Millennials

Media consumption in younger generations may give us a clue as to what these audiences are expecting when paying for cultural content. According to YPuls’s recent Representation in Action trend research there is a strong demand for inclusion among both Gen Z (ages 13-19) and Millennials (ages 20-38). Both generations described being interested in watching a show or movie with a diverse cast, and therefore migrating to the platforms that provide what they are looking for. Moreover, multicultural and minority consumers react most favourably to content in which they can see themselves and their communities represented positively and realistically.

4 Good practice: Netflix Inclusion Strategy

Poster of Netflix' show "Dear White People"

The streaming platform Netflix is an impressive example of good practice. In addition to the creation of a large number of series and films on diverse themes and with diverse casts, an ambitious inclusion strategy is being implemented behind the scenes.

The University of Southern California has made a study of all series and films Netflix released in the United States in 2018 and 2019: 52% had a female lead character and 35.7% of all the lead characters had a minority background.

Poster of Netflix' show "Atypical"

Perhaps this explains why Netflix comes top when Gen Z and Millennials are asked which media sources they feel are diverse and inclusive, with more than half (69% of 13-19-year-olds and 60% of 20-38-year-olds) pointing to it specifically.

We highly recommend that you to spend nine minutes watching this video, in which Verna Meyers, VP of Inclusion Strategy, and the rest of the team explain their perspective and how they are encouraged to think about the question ‘Who is not here?’ as they do their job.

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