It's not enough to Lean In...gotta Step Up!


For all of us, the last 16 months have been more than challenging in every possible dimension of how we spend both our personal and business lives.   The very positive news is that we've moved from abnormal to a new way of working, but we can do better...much better!

As we look toward the summer of '21...only a month would appear that...

  • ...we're clearly winning in the war against the virus in the U.S.
  • ...the indicators from the Fed and most business leaders point to a strong 2nd half.  
  • ...we're starting to have a more honest dialog on diversity at every level

Overall, my personal belief is that we're now at a point of more than "light at the end of the tunnel" in terms of the virus, and we are rapidly turning the corner on the expected economic recovery later this year.  

On the subject of making a meaningful change on inclusion and diversity, not so much in terms of definitive improvement.   Given what has occurred in 2020, we may hear louder and more consistent voices, but I well remember my own very active participation in marches, in speeches, in demonstrations, both peaceful and violent...50 years ago...and yet here we are today still staring at a long road ahead.  



Since very few of us can deal with the enormity of the problem on a large scale where we can make a meaningful difference, and since, in my work in management and on boards, I always want to bring concepts down to the reality of executable actions in our businesses where we all can make a difference, I offer the following for all of us to think about what we can do in our own companies that will make a difference.

  • Step Up to the real leadership as what it takes to be a manager in today's environment of embracing diversity.  I know hundreds of extraordinary business leaders, and their one common thread is that they are not reluctant to define, to consistently update and to actively live the values of their companies in everything they do.  Today, those leaders move far beyond talking about the issue; they openly activate  by taking hard positions.  At Tufts, Tony Monaco, our president, takes an immediate, vocal and unwavering firm hand to any break with university policy and is consistently outspoken on inclusion.
  • Step Up by requiring formal "unconscious bias" training for your senior team and board members.  I have the privilege of being a director at the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which has a very large board of senior leaders, and inclusion training and certification are now required.  
  • Step Up by moving beyond recognizing "unconscious bias", which is incredibly important, to a higher level of "conscious inclusion" demonstrating that word "inclusion" in everything we do.  In my tiny state of Vermont, from the governor to all the mayors of the larger cities, they are adopting formal commitments and legislation on inclusion.  The four largest cities have now completed this.
  • Step Up to immediately acting on any unacceptable language or behavior in the workplace.  This does not require an open confrontation with others present, but it does require a firm statement that that language or behavior is not acceptable at the company.  If that language or behavior does continue, terminate the individual whether that person is a factory worker or a board member. If the issue is systemic in the company, even though it may be hidden, think seriously about quitting since walking on eggshells in any company will ultimately lead to its failure anyhow.  Recent data in public companies clearly shows that diversity in gender and race among the senior team and board members leads to significantly higher revenue and improved bottom line performance.
  • Step Up to updating all of your written employee policies by the end of June as to your company's culture and commitment to inclusion, and then actively engage everyone in the company in not only distributing the material, but actively engaging discussions on how they can be activists at work.
  • Step Up to written rules of meeting behavior and acceptable language and actions during the meetings wherever they are from boardrooms to virtual conferences to weekly staff meetings. Openly but comfortably and immediately discuss and act on any violations.

And how does all of this tie back to marketing and sales in 2021?  It does perfectly since in 2021, the old rules of Sales and Marketing have been changed forever from selling products and services to "targets" and "prospects" to providing specific business and personal value to specific people.  There simply is no possible way to be a successful salesperson today in talking with real people without being totally inclusive!  If we want to step up to surpassing quota every month, then the easiest place to start is in active engagement in inclusion!

Have a great day selling today and a perhaps a thoughtful Mother's Day weekend about this subject.

Jack Derby, Professor & Sales Coach


If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board on this subject or anything in Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.   

Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener, and we can get deep into tactics if you want. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.



Tags: how to close sales, sales success, racial and gender diversity, diversity, step up to inclusion, inclusion