Often when discussing diversity and inclusion (D&I), practitioners find themselves in the position of trying to explain the business case. This is often required due to a general lack of understanding by many on the topic. Some feel D&I is some type of social program such as affirmative action. Others tend to characterize it as simply a racial topic, narrowing it even further to a black and white issue. In reality, D&I involves each of us, regardless of our race, nationality, professional background, age, sex, sexual preference, communication or learning style. This long yet incomplete list gives us a good definition of diversity. Inclusion is defined as the act of including or the state of being included. As a verb, it’s transitive in nature; that is, it involves the transfer of an action from one person to another. So, action is required.
In discussing any topic within Franklin Energy, we always come back to our purpose, which is to help all people use the world’s precious resources more efficiently. This is what it’s all about. So how does D&I support this purpose? In the answer is where we will find the power of diversity and inclusion.
Just thinking back to the long but incomplete list of diversity types mentioned earlier, one could wonder how all these individuals could have anything in common. The fact is, every human consumes energy in some way.
So, our commonality is the consumption of a very limited amount of energy resources.
The power of diversity and inclusion is released when we tap into the minds, desires, and talents of persons with a variety of backgrounds, experiences and preferences. This relates to another phenomenon called cultural diffusion.
Cultural diffusion, as conceptualized by Leo Frobenius in his 1897/98 publication Der westafrikanische Kulturkreis, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies, languages—between individuals, whether within a single culture or from one culture to another. Who would have thought we would borrow the ancient Egyptians’ idea of perfume atomizers to develop the modern-day carburetor, which led up to our current fuel injection technology? Simply put, cultural diffusion is diversity and inclusion that transcends time, cultures, and geography.
Today, we still possess the ability to unleash this type of brilliance. We simply need to leverage it by tapping into the minds, experiences, and backgrounds of all. Tapping into these rich banks of knowledge is a business imperative for Franklin Energy as it will propel us ahead of our competition. But it’s not all about dollars. Remember our purpose. We desire to help all people use the world’s precious resources more efficiently. In doing so we are making positive impacts to each individual, business, and community we touch.
This starts by realizing that everyone, from the executives to direct installers, has valuable knowledge and experience to offer. It means recognizing that the single parent utility customer who’s working two jobs can offer insight on the type of messaging that catches her ear. It’s remembering that the perspective of her children is valuable, too, since they are the future recipients and caretakers of our world’s precious resources. And the list goes on. Unleashing the power of diversity and inclusion isn’t some secret power. We only need to ask, listen, and act.