As every start up knows, where you set off is rarely where you find yourself, a little down the line.

When we started out one of the things we grappled with was who our customers would be. We began with the goal of working with companies that ‘do good’. But what does that mean? 

The best and brightest green tech startups get acquired by the big fossil fuel giants. Where does that path of virtue lead you?

We decided to widen out our focus to progressive companies. For us, being progressive means – innovative, inclusive and championing diversity. Flexible and committed to new ways of working.

Fast forward to today, which happens to fall in National Inclusion Week, and we’ve been pondering what progressive means. Not least since we’ve been working on a diversity and inclusion focused keynote for a client in a global software company.

Is that company progressive? It sells software that allows its customers to be more effective in their businesses. And along the way it’s focused on using its influence to break down the barriers that hold back equality in business.  Not just because it’s morally the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense. 

Forming Storming Norming and Performing

The most innovative successful teams are made up with people from all walks of life. According to the World Economic Forum: “Organizations with inclusive cultures are two times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.”

Our client is literally the leader in its market. It’s focused on ensuring its customers are successful and it’s focused on delivering profitable growth. Yet with its size and influence, the impact it can deliver by empowering diverse teams to succeed is significant.

Who knows how many people with diverse backgrounds and from underrepresented groups will be inspired and supported to break down the barriers of inequality because of the powerful stance this company takes? 

It might not have a pure focus on a social justice or world saving goal. But it is progressive. 

We need the market outliers. The “- for good” innovators. The players at the edge that push our thinking and set the pace for progress. 

But we also need the big players who represent the majority to take that thinking and make it mainstream.

If we want lasting change at scale, it needs to include everyone. That’s truly progressive.