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Anti-Woke Business: The Difference Between Intention and Implementation of DEI





Achieving DEI success requires a delicate balance between putting the business first and prioritizing people. The bottom line is a critical metric. There is and always will be a focus on profits, but now there’s a caveat: being intentional about the culture and, more importantly, being inclusive.


Prioritizing the business is essential for survival and growth. A healthy bottom line ensures the company can invest in innovation and expansion and, most importantly, continue to drive economic growth and employment opportunities. For business leaders, profitability remains the driving force behind decisions, as it should be. Without profit, there are no enterprises. There are no jobs, and there are no contributions to the economy. However, the common misconception lies in thinking that a strong business focus must come at the expense of people, particularly in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion.


As demographic shifts continue to disrupt the business world, so do the expectations of employees, customers, and shareholders. A business that neglects the people elements risks losing customer trust, becoming inefficient and ultimately outdated. Today’s workforce represents a myriad of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Numerous studies show that diverse teams are more innovative, better at solving complex problems, and more adept at connecting with a global customer base. However, the intention of creating diversity alone isn’t enough. To maximize the potential of a diverse workforce, leaders must be clear and intentional about what they aim to accomplish and understand the difference between equity and inclusion.


Equity acknowledges that employees have different starting points and creates measures to ensure they have fair access to opportunities and resources regardless of their starting point. It is much easier said than done, as it requires systemic breakdowns, evaluation of new policies and procedures, etc. It can become a woke business action instead of a strategic business decision if not approached properly. 


On the other hand, inclusion refers to creating a culture where everyone is respected, valued, and safe. This is also easier said than done. When either of these is missing, diversity is often just expensive tokenism; therefore, the benefits of true diversity remain unrealized.


This is where implementation is more important than intention. For DEI to be impactful, leaders have to stop playing DEI and be deliberate in their efforts. We are well beyond words. DEI requires intention and implementation. Leaders set the tone and lead by example and are therefore responsible for examining hiring practices, promotion policies, and company culture to identify and rectify areas of bias as they are direct threats to business productivity. A companywide commitment to DEI is more than an email blast. If intentional, it will be made clear integrated into the organization's values and strategically implemented into day-to-day operations.


Intentional DEI efforts can lead to significant business benefits. First and foremost, enhance the company’s reputation as more customers and investors become more socially conscious; many are choosing to support businesses that align with their values. This is not to suggest your company should implement woke business practices. Quite the opposite, at FIG, we promote anti-woke business and encourage you to be aware that company values matter, including being honest about how and why your company solves problems. However, if done properly, companies committed to DEI will more likely attract and retain loyal customers and investors.


Intentional DEI also helps mitigate risks. Discrimination claims have been up 50% since 2022 and are more costly than ever in today's litigious culture. By applying anti-woke business practices and proactively addressing these issues, businesses can protect themselves from legal troubles and safeguard their business's integrity.


Putting the business first remains essential but no longer means sacrificing the well-being and advancement of people. Prioritizing DEI is a strategic move that could enhance a company's reputation. Striking the right balance between business, success, and people-centric values is no longer optional. It is a necessity for your business strategy. In short, anti-woke business first. People always.


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