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Shelley Willingham Dives into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion In Entrepreneurship Since it’s Crucial To Your Business

Nowadays, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become the business imperatives. Many companies are becoming more conscious of business issues like DEI since many consumers are paying attention to how companies are addressing business issues within their organization. 

Shelley Willingham, a serial entrepreneur and a business strategist, said that diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucial for any enterprise to survive and succeed in the current business environment. Willingham is a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion not only in the corporate sector, but also in entrepreneurship. In addition to her entrepreneurial pursuits, she is a strong advocate integrating DEI in business organization. Her expertise on dealing with DEI issues allowed her to help many business organizations in their DEI journey. It is also the main reason why other organizations like The Diversity Movement tap her in helping them spread the inclusion of DEI in business organizations.

An Offer She Can’t Refuse  

For more than 20 years, Willingham has become a successful business strategist who is imparting her know-how and time-tested strategies to entrepreneurs and business owners. She started working on DEI inclusion in business organizations way back in 2003 when she founded The National Organization for Diversity in Sales and Marketing. Until today, she is continuing to spearhead diversity, equity, and inclusion in business.

“I’ve always had a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion in business. When Donald Thompson, founder of The Diversity Movement, invited me to join the team, I did not hesitate. It is an offer that I could not refuse,” Willingham said.

Willingham explained that she grabs the opportunity because its goal is perfectly aligned with her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. “I have been supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion over the years. These principles have been the focus of my life in the past,” she added.

“I can’t imagine any forward-thinking company that wants to position itself for growth not embracing the value of DEI. The business case is clear. DEI initiatives increase the bottom line, drive innovation, attract more talent, and create more opportunities for growth. Simply, it just makes good business sense,” Willingham remarked.

Understanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Willingham wants entrepreneurs and business owners to realize that diversity, equity, and inclusion are not options but priorities that can help achieve business growth.

Diversity is defined in many different ways. There’s ethnicity, race, gender, ability, thought, etc, in business it;s important to recognize and appreciate these differences and create an inclusive environment for employees, clients, customers and vendors.

On the other hand, equity in entrepreneurship ensures that each individual receives the same treatment and has access to the same opportunities and career growth, regardless of their social and cultural characteristics. In other words, every employee experiences fairness in the organization. 

The organization eliminates the barriers that could impede some groups from full participation in the organization. An example of a barrier is gender bias. In some instances, employers rated male candidates as more competent and more qualified for employment than a female applicant with the same work experience and educational background.

Meanwhile, inclusion pertains to an individual’s sense of belongingness in the organization. People’s social and cultural characteristics feel that they are part of the group. For example, an organization has a diverse team composed of individuals from different age generations. Still, diversity does not equate that all of them feel that their efforts are given importance. 

Inclusion is about an organization ensuring that everybody’s voice is being heard and each opinion is considered. It is creating a working environment that has an atmosphere of respect and acceptance.

Importance Of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Willingham emphasized that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to attain business success. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are principles that should go hand in hand in an organization because each of them reinforces the other,” she said.

Some organizations focus only on diversity and leave out equity and inclusion. As a result, organizations missed the opportunity to tap their employee’s full potential.

Organizations with a diverse workforce who belong to different age generations, educational background, and skills are more innovative and creative. A diverse team can offer a wide range of ideas since people of various ages, educational backgrounds, and skills can provide different perspectives.

If workers have a sense of belonging and experience fairness within the organization, employees are happier and have higher morale. Hence, it will reflect on their work output. If employees feel needed and valued, they are willing to go the extra mile to do their roles.

Final Thoughts

Willingham said that every organization is unique; thus, a diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy should be tailor-fit to the organization’s needs. Some organizations might have diversity already but lack equity and inclusion. In that case, the business strategy will focus more on equity and inclusion.


Willingham is eager to help organizations in integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion in their business. To learn more about DEI, please visit her website at https://shelleywillingham.com/.

Ulyses Osuna has made his own unique advances to traditional PR-marketing activities to help his public relations endeavors succeed. He is one of six founders to be featured in an Inc Magazine article on "Millennials with a Thriving Business" and has also been featured in the Huffington Post as a 19-Year-Old dominating the PR space.

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