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The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams


15 min read
8 take-aways
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What's inside?

Learn to Inclusify your workforce by meeting their needs for uniqueness and belonging.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


In this Wall Street Journal bestseller, Professor Stefanie K. Johnson draws on a vast body of research to identify the leadership mind-sets that facilitate or impede workplace diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). She reveals the rewards of “Inclusifying” your workforce, that is, nurturing both uniqueness and belonging among employees. Johnson makes a strong case that Inclusifying boosts engagement, creativity and performance. Her engaging, conversational prose makes her rigorous analyses easily digestible. Readers who already possess some knowledge of DEI will likely benefit most.


Organizations are failing to reap the increasingly clear benefits of diversity.

Research continues to reveal diversity’s vast rewards. For example, studies show hiring more women and giving them authority in top management roles, executive positions and board seats improve profitability and boost stock returns. Early-stage investors might prefer to work with founders who look like them, but their investments have greater chances of succeeding – 25% greater – when they fund diverse teams. A study at GitHub showed teams composed of people who hadn’t worked together before had an eightfold performance advantage over those who knew one another – indicating lack of familiarity among team members enhances performance. Although homogeneous teams might make members feel comfortable, they tend to underperform because their sameness hampers ideation, innovation and decision-making.

Despite the clear and growing evidence that DEI offers a slew of benefits to teams and organizations, many continue to lag in implementing programs. In the United States, women hold only 5% of CEO positions, and the corporate world is faring even worse in racial equity, as Black executives...

About the Author

Stefanie K. Johnson is a Professor and Director of the Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University. Her research has garnered accolades and invitations to present around the world, including at the White House for a 2016 summit on diversity in corporate America on National Equal Pay Day.

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