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Some Important Reasons to Embrace Diversity in Your Practice You May Not Have Thought About

While these are important, it’s not just about gender or ethnic diversity.

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THE RESEARCH IS CLEAR: greater diversity around boardroom tables, in corner offices and in your practice makes good business sense. Inclusivity and diversity are goals worth striving toward for many reasons. They boost the bottom line and can reinvent a workplace culture. Empowering women in the workplace is an important piece of this, and a mission of mine. Compared to other industries, optometry fares quite well: women made up almost 45 percent of ODs in the U.S. in 2016 (Data USA).

1Diversity. Embracing diversity starts with broadening how we define and look at it from a practice management point of view. Diverse leadership is not just about gender or ethnic diversity — it’s about welcoming diversity of thought and cultivating a wide range of skills.

2Engaging your team. Research from Deloitte and the Billy Jean King Leadership Initiative reveals that some of our younger staff have strong views about diverse leadership. In fact, 86 percent believe differences of opinion help teams thrive, but only 59 percent of their leaders feel the same.

Research proves that unengaged employees are a multi-billion-dollar productivity problem. Also that almost everything about how consumers access services and how we buy products is changing.

3Seek the talent you need. Ethnically diverse companies are more likely to outperform those with low diversity by 35 percent, according to research by McKinsey. Job market platform Glassdoor found two-thirds of job seekers count diversity as important when searching for jobs.

Diversity is a recruitment driver, and diversity in skill and experiences drives growth. Start by looking within your practice for staff members with unused talents such as social media savvy or previous retail or sales experience. The next step is hiring to fill the remaining skill gaps on the business side of your practice, looking beyond optometry-specific experience.

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4 Diverse leadership. A study by Gartner found that the most effective management style is that of the connector-manager. These managers spend time with their staff and don’t hesitate to refer questions or challenges to team members with the right expertise.

Hand-in-hand with diverse leadership is inclusivity. Openness, empowerment and taking perspectives are some of Deloitte’s 15 inclusive leadership traits. When we treat diversity as a business priority, talent, innovation, customers, and markets grow. The bottom line is that you have a higher profit margin, a full practice of repeat scheduled clients and a staff that believes in your values and goals.

Pauline Blachford works with ECPs on strategies for recalling, increasing eyewear sales, and improving staff productivity. She is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences and events, and writes regularly for a variety of industry publications. Visit her at paulineblachford.com

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