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  1. Blog
  2. Diversity
  3. May 27, 2021

33 Quotes to Inspire Leaders to Prioritize Diversity Now

“Diversity is the magic”

Billboard that says "ugly, sweaty men become CEOs all the time. Ugly sweaty women don't."
Image courtesy of Martin Firrel

“Diversity,” “equity,” and “inclusion” seem to be go-to business buzzwords in today’s work culture, appearing all over company websites and on seemingly every mission statement. But in 2021 and beyond, we want to inspire leaders to achieve more than lip service. 

Not only is hiring deserving and qualified applicants from a variety of backgrounds the right thing to do, but it can also radically shift the way we work. Diverse groups of people have diverse ideas, which sparks innovation. And according to a study by McKinsey & Company, organizations in the United States with diverse executive boards have a 95 percent higher return on equity than homogenous boards. Diverse teams also lead to healthier work environments because they are more likely to challenge groupthink and be inclusive and culturally aware. 

Creating a truly diverse team takes time, but if you’re looking to inspire your higher-ups or your team to become more inclusive ASAP, take a look at these 33 quotes that highlight why fostering diversity in the workplace (and in our culture) makes all the difference.

Read more: How Do You Know If a Company Truly Embraces Diversity?

33 inspiring quotes to inspire leaders to prioritize diversity now

1. “Diversity is about creating an environment where a person can bring their whole self to work.” 

—Lauria Miller

2. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” 

—Maya Angelo

3. “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

4. “The value of a diverse team is its capacity to challenge the norm of groupthink and thus boost organizational performance and improve decision-making.” 

—Yrthya Dinzey-Flores 

5. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

—African Proverb

6. “We know that diversity can sometimes be more uncomfortable because things are less familiar—but it gets the best results.” 

—Megan Smith

 7. “If you haven’t got the best talent you’re not going to be the best, if you’re not representing properly the available pool of talent then you’re missing an opportunity.”

—Alex Wilmot-Sitwell

 8. “Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” 

—Ola Joseph

 9. “The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord.”

—‘Abdu’l-Bahá

 Read more: How to Hold Space for Your Coworkers (& Why You Should)

 10. “People may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture.” 

—Feliz Adler 

 11. “Men in particular need to speak more about their personal reasons for wanting diversity in the workplace.” 

—Jane Silber

 12. “We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.” 

—Sheryl Sandberg

 13. “The world is intertwined today, much more than it was when I was coming out of school. Because of that, you really need to have a deep understanding of cultures around the world. I have learned to not just appreciate this but celebrate it. The thing that makes the world interesting is our differences, not our similarities.” 

—Tim Cook

 14. “We have a very diverse environment and a very inclusive culture and those characteristics got us through the tough times. Diversity generated better strategy, better risk management, better debates, and better outcomes.” 

—Alan Joyce

 15. “Many conversations about diversity and inclusion do not happen in the boardroom because people are embarrassed at using unfamiliar words or afraid of saying the wrong thing—yet this is the very place we need to be talking about it. The business case speaks for itself—diverse teams are more innovative and successful in going after new markets.” 

—Inga Beale

 16. “If you haven’t hired a team of people who are of color, female, and/or LGBT to actively turn over every stone, to scope out every nook and cranny, to pop out of every bush, to find every qualified underrepresented founder in this country, you’re going to miss out on a lot of money when the rest of the investment world gets it.” 

—Arlan Hamilton

 Read more: 10 Questions to Ask a Prospective Employer About Their Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

 17. “The path to diversity begins with supporting, mentoring, and sponsoring diverse women and men to become leaders and entrepreneurs.” 

—Denise Morrison 

 18. “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become wiser, more inclusive, and better as an organization.” 

—Pat Wadors

 19. “I think diversity can also be a resource, an asset, especially in a world that is becoming globalized, to deal with difference, to deal with variety, to deal with complexity.” 

—Jose Manuel Barroso

 20. “We all have the ability to promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion — and that is something I believe every leader has a responsibility to do. It starts with having a dialogue until we are all comfortable and no longer have the fear of saying the wrong thing.” 

—Inga Beale

 21. “We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” 

—Max de Pree

 22. “When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organization.” 

—Pat Wadors

 23. "If you hire only those people you understand, the company will never get people better than you are. Always remember that you often find outstanding people among those you don't particularly like." 

—Soichiro Honda

 24. “In order to be great, you just have to care. You have to care about your world, community, and equality.” 

—Katori Hall

 25. “There is a huge business case for diversity. You will be making products for people you don't understand, you don't interact with. If you don't have an inclusive, diverse workforce, it makes you myopic.” 

—Renee James

 26. “Diversity is the magic. It is the first manifestation, the first beginning of the differentiation of a thing and of simple identity. The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection.”

—Thomas Berry 

 27. “I want our future leaders to know what's possible and to be part of a world where diversity and gender equality aren't special programs but the natural way of operating.”

—Pierre Nanterme

 Read more: Equity vs. Equality: What’s the Difference in the Workplace?

 28. “Respect for diversity doesn’t just make a happier workplace, it improves productivity and is good for the business.” 

—Jeanette Purkis

 29. “Cultivating diversity in all its forms—of our content, products, and people—is one of our most important business imperatives.” 

—Jeff Bewkes

30. “Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.” 

—Tom Perez

 31. “Inclusion is not a matter of political correctness. It is the key to growth.” 

—Jesse Jackson

 32. “In crucial things, unity. In important things, diversity. In all things, generosity.” 

—George H. W. Bush

 33. “Our diversity of faith and color and creeds—that is not a threat to who we are. It makes us who we are.” 

—Michelle Obama

 Read more: What Is an Equal Employment Opportunity Statement?

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Photo of Anna Louise Pickens

Anna Louise Pickens

Contributor

Anna Louise Pickens is InHerSight’s editorial intern. She loves writing about anything related to women—from women’s fashion to lifestyle to workplace equality. Her bylines include Chapel Hill Magazine, Heart of NC Weddings, Durham Magazine, and Chatham Magazine. She’s currently a Morehead-Cain Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill where she is double majoring in Business and Journalism.

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