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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: How Egalitarianism is Better for Human Connection - Bonar Institute for Purposeful Leadership

Equitable transfers of acceptance, understanding (regardless of agreement), and validation are scarce and largely neglected as essential.

 What is the nemesis of full acceptance and inclusion? Is it ego? Is it fear? Is it discomfort? Some, or in part, driven by lack of conformity?

 Adam Grant eloquently answers this question in his book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, when he said,

We listen to views that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.”

By Adam’s statement, we understand, at least partially, that achieving full acceptance and inclusion takes work – putting in significant effort to reach beyond what is making us feel good, moving through to the self-discipline of new thinking, and challenging our previously perceived norms.

What does it take to fully accept and include others when we may not be prone, trained, or care to? I often write about and speak on intellectual humility, the idea that it is possible to be open to other perspectives and mindsets because we accept our own view as just one perspective among many thousands, millions, and billions of others.

The precursor to adopting an attributive humbling mindset can occur in an idea’s infancy, especially when that idea or experience challenges our apparent notions and calls for a reworking of our perceived belief system; those embedded predispositions that influence how we view, interact with and accept/reject others.

 In his book, Adam goes on to quote blogger Tim Urban, answering our question again, yet in a more piercing way.

“Arrogance is ignorance plus conviction. While humility is a permeable filter that absorbs life experience and converts it into knowledge and wisdom, arrogance is a rubber shield that life experience simply bounces off of.”

Unless we thwart these internal nemeses, equitable transfers of acceptance, understanding (regardless of agreement), and validation will remain scarce. This article aims to breathe life into the relevancy of Egalitarianism as it applies to our professional interactions for all stakeholders in all places – from board rooms to logistics warehousing floors. It’s quite simple, really. Our professional interactions are primarily with co-workers, subordinates, bosses, customers, and suppliers… in a word, “people”. And people are just that: People.


While exploring the applicable relevancy of Egalitarianism as it relates to our professional interactions with all stakeholders, it is helpful to have a clear reference to our meaning of “Egalitarianism.” 

Traditionally, Egalitarianism’s reference point has been one of “thought in political philosophy”.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, egalitarian doctrines tend to rest on a background idea that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth. Alternatively, an expansive view states “People should be treated as equals, should treat one another as equals, should relate as equals, or enjoy an equality of social status of some sort”.

Thus, it is fully warranted to explore Egalitarianism’s relativity to solving glass ceiling barriers, career path disparities and general angst in digressing female gender, transgender and/or non-gender representation.

Equal opportunity in business and the workplace simply incorporates the most fundamental principle that all human persons are equal. In fact, it is so simple, it cannot be contested.

Yet, factors do exist that impact the inputs and outputs of a human person’s relational equality. Arguably the “equality of condition doctrines gets the priorities backward;” and, “these doctrines make a fetish of what should not matter to us or should not matter very much”.

A better approach is to analyze the concept of the distributive-justice principle within Egalitarianism. This might occur by dissecting social and distributive arrangements needed to establish and sustain a society.


In our case, we define society as a business group and/or a workplace culture which is comprised of free and equal people. As a workplace community, all individuals relate as equals despite their varying economic, geographic, and social factors, which distinguish them as individuals. A person’s individuality which is built on economic, geographic and social factors of their past, is independently and collectively important.

These unique factors become value inputs to a business group and/or workplace culture. They offer opportunities to the community by bringing together a diversity of life experiences, diversity of thought, varying approaches to problem-solving, degrees of adaptability and forbearance and more.

What we hope to achieve within a community is that the distributive approach to relational equality exists; and, the workplace community exemplifies the definition of culture.

The best definition I have yet to find for the term “culture” comes from James P. Carse. In his book, Finite and Infinite Games, Carse says, “Culture is what people do with each other and comes into being when persons choose to a be a people”. 

When persons (individuals) chose to be a people (community), certain characteristic-group attributes develop:

  • Conscious nomenclature
  • Verbiage & language adherences form
  • Assimilative characteristics and values
  • Commonality in purpose and meaning
  • Assuage personal impulses to feel excluded based on past experiences
  • Enjoyment of strong human connection
  • Experience heightened levels of endorphins when new members join
  • Fulfillment by means of established bonds in the community

(The aphorism of Trust is crucial, yet I treat it here as a given in high-performing teams and effective cultures. There are ample research papers, data proofs, articles and books that support the basic argument for Trust. We can give ourselves credit for adhering to the trust principle as a given baseline. I would hope it is patently obvious!)

One of the best ways to validate a concept’s importance is by understanding what it is NOT. And most of us have personal relatability to a culture gone awry, or maybe worse, a culture that never formed. We can easily recall the experiences and speak to the dysfunction and waste which resulted.

When cohesive cultures take hold, business goals and initiatives are easier to achieve, revenue and profitability targets more readily align, and positive shareholder sentiment is stronger – each a direct result of highly-effective team performance which ensures sustainable talent acquisition, performance, and retention metrics.


Egalitarianism as a distributive-justice principle supports modern, innovative organizational hierarchies. When we value the inputs of individuals equally (when we view individuals as equal players in innovation, creativity, and continuous improvement), the door opens to rethink traditional top-down authoritarian (and sometimes, accidental dictatorship) structures. 

In a recent MIT Sloan Management on Rethinking Hierarchy, authors Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, share how they “see a confluence of business and social trends influencing the development of new kinds of hierarchies. Rapid technological progress, instant communication, value creation based on knowledge rather than physical resources, globalization, and a more educated workforce require us to rethink how we wield managerial authority.”

 Yet, “the need for hierarchy isn’t going away, but the form it takes is changing: deciding how things will be done rather than telling people what to do, and designing and enforcing the rules of the game rather than making everyone play it in a certain way. As Haier Group founder and CEO Zhang Ruimin put it,

“Leaders of other enterprises often define themselves as captains of the ship, but I think I’m more the ship’s architect or designer. That’s different from a captain’s role, in which the route is often fixed, and the destination defined.”

“In redesigning managerial authority and hierarchy for the 21st century, leaders must realize that they don’t need to know everything, but only just enough, and they need to consider what their employees want and think is fair in designing structures and systems.”

Considering what employees want and think means a commitment to actioning employee input and feedback, quantifiably.

This concept of egalitarianism for the workplace offers hope as it respects individuals’ economic, geographic and social backgrounds, enables more cohesive cultures, and creates an environment for modern organizational hierarchies to thrive whilst enlisting bi-directional accountability amongst people equally as stakeholders.

The solutions to glass ceiling barriers, career path disparity, general angst in digressing female gender, and a growing presence of transgender and non-gender representation are found in Egalitarianism as it applies to our professional interactions.

To potentially influence a new perspective, empowering thought to drive new solutions for acceptance and inclusion, Egalitarianism is better for human connection.

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