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Utah Business

In a September column, Roy Banks, CEO of Weave pens an open letter to his peers on diversity in the workplace.

An open letter to businesses about diversity

While diversity is a challenge in tech overall, it’s an even bigger issue in Utah where the state has lost out on big contracts and large companies putting down roots elsewhere because of the lack of diversity in the state. 

The Silicon Slopes community needs every C-suite executive, every startup owner, every leader to get behind solving this problem to maintain and grow our thriving tech sector. The stats are clear—diversity isn’t just a buzzword or a “nice to have.” Diversity can positively impact and grow businesses.

For instance: 2020 was an incredibly hard year for small businesses. But it was also a year marked by innovation and creativity. New normals for consumers and businesses alike drove quick adaptation and modernization. Companies who fared well in the pandemic got down to business, got creative, and innovated to solve hard problems. 

At Weave, we had to innovate quickly when Covid hit in order to help our small business customers adjust to unprecedented limitations on their operations. Within the month of March 2020 alone, Weave launched free continuing education courses and business consultations with our customer success teams and adapted our product to help our customers send and receive wellness forms, facilitate curbside dropoff, and pick up and provide touchless payments.

But innovation isn’t just something you turn on in your team like a light switch. Creative problem solving fosters innovation and it has to be cultivated. I believe that core to creative problem solving is diversity. A foundational study by Scott Page found that diversity—specifically cognitive diversity, or people perceiving and analyzing problems differently—led to more innovation in teams. And cognitive diversity strongly correlates to identity diversity. 

And companies that report the highest levels of racial diversity experience 15 times the sales revenue compared to companies with the least racial diversity among their employees. Why is that? It points to something that we talk about a lot at Weave—customer obsession. Customer obsession helps build great products, it helps drive teams to identify opportunities others may have missed and can be a huge innovation driver in and of itself. But in sales, customer obsession and connection are what it’s all about.

A study by the Harvard Business Review found that a team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152 percent more likely to understand that client than another team. That understanding builds trust and stronger relationships. That’s why we focus on hiring minorities and people with different backgrounds at Weave and we have a strong track record of doing so. For businesses, customer experience is crucial to success. And in sales, in particular, relationships are everything. Having sales team members from diverse backgrounds can build stronger relationships, understanding, and feedback from your customers. 

And let’s not forget—the workforce, consumers, and business owners are all increasingly diverse. Some of the fastest-growing segments of small business ownership in the country are women, Hispanic, and Black business owners. Increasingly, diversity is highly valued by talented, high-performing people. We all want those people on our team. A more attractive hiring brand is a key benefit of diversity.

Weave’s mantra is “people, not employees.” And while this way of thinking predates me at Weave, when I came into the CEO role, I was so impressed by it. In fact, many Utahns know very little else about Weave except our commitment to that statement. Part of treating our teams as people is recognizing and honoring their whole selves. It’s been a powerful tool for our business in attracting new talent both inside and outside of Utah.

A Glassdoor study found that 67 percent of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities. The richness of backgrounds, stories, and cultures is part of what running a company is all about. Current top-performers also care about diversity in the business. Keeping them and all of their institutional knowledge is important.

Equitability is also important for retaining employees. Another survey found that 40 percent of employees leave a company after experiencing harassment, bullying, or stereotyping. People vote with their feet and will find a place to work where they feel safe to be themselves and valued for their contribution.

Many business owners and leaders are not just beholden to employees and colleagues, they also have current and future investors to consider in business planning. The bottom line, profitability, culture, hiring, and employee retention are all impacted by diversity. And investors care about all of those aspects of our businesses.

In fact, when firms use commonly accepted “best practices,” such as the inclusion of diverse groups in hiring, they receive higher valuations in the market. Why? Because implementing these norms is a sign of competent management for investors. But it’s not just a way to improve value to investors. Research has found that markets actually penalize those who break these norms. Diversity isn’t just important for the bottom line today; it can drive success for years to come by attracting the right investors.

There are many ways to build a valuable company. I believe diversity is one of the most accessible and impactful strategies we can undertake as business leaders. It’s never too late to begin doing better.

Roy Banks is CEO at Weave. A pioneer in digital payments, Roy has 20 years of experience in high-tech software development, e-commerce, internet marketing and payment processing. Roy most recently served as CEO Partner at Tritium Partners. Prior to that he was President of the LoadPay Business Unit and a Board Member for Truckstop, where he helped Truckstop's payment initiative grow into the leading payment solution for the industry. Previously, Roy served as CEO at Network Merchants and Open Edge Payments. Roy served in the United States Navy and holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Utah Valley University.

Comments (5)

  • Kent Nelson

    This is the first diversity article coming from “The Daily” that makes sense and talks about important elements of having different cultures and backgrounds in a company’s work force. This article does not “shame blame and complain” about the lack of equity in Utah but highlights the common sense of a diverse employment. The only thing I would add is to highlight hiring people with a more low income background and culture i.e. helping people realize the American dream of upward mobility. A famous basketball coach had a standard in which he never requited a ball player that came from a home that had a three car garage. He realized that the best players come from the lower income culture of our country.

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  • Annie Studer

    We’ll be discussing this article in our next Creative Energies Solar JEDI (Justice Equality/Equity Diversity and Inclusion) team meeting. Thanks Roy Banks for the great article about the importance of diversity for businesses.

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    • Kelsie Foreman

      Thank you so much for reading/commenting, Annie! Let us know how the meeting goes!

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  • Bradley Bertoch

    Excellent article well documented, apolitical, and well written. My only regret is back in the day, VentureCapital.org lost out on Weave because they were whisk away by Ycombinator. 🙂

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  • Kellie Openshaw

    Thank you for this article! While you are addressing equity and diversity in the current job market, we need to (and can do!) a better job preparing a more equitable and diverse workforce in the future talent pipeline here in Utah. YouScience In American Fork, has a statewide contract with all middle schools and high schools to provide aptitude assessments showing students how their natural talents align to careers. It is no secret that women tend to have a low interest in technical careers – but when aptitudes are considered, the talent among men and women is very similar. The same holds true with racially diverse students and urban/rural students – interest is low, but talent is high. YouScience connects students’ talents to careers and exposes them to opportunities they may not have considered. When we let students know they have the talent to be successful in specific careers, it gives them the confidence and hope to pursue them – thus preparing a better (and more diverse) workforce of the future.

    Shameless plug – we want your companies in the YouScience Employer Connections portal to show students real careers/companies that they can prepare to work for in the future. Aptitude + Skill/Education = awesome future talent. It’s free for your company and reaches all HS students in the state. opportunities.youscience.com/employer/registration

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