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When it Pays to be Inclusive

In 2013, Lululemon founder and CEO, Chip Wilson, resigned after blaming women’s bodies for a sheerness issue in its popular yoga pants. Like many other luxury brands, at that time Lululemon leveraged exclusivity, targeting the fit, thin and upscale to generate appeal. Heavyset women were not wanted.

By definition, exclusivity eliminates potential customers, whereas the quest for diversity and inclusivity (D&I) widens the audience. For wealth managers interested in expanding their businesses, D&I programs can help attract and retain different types of clients.

What does D&I mean? Diversity and inclusivity is about creating an accepting and welcoming community that includes groups that are often underrepresented and ensuring them equal access to services and opportunities. Recent tragic events, such as the death of George Floyd, have heightened the nation’s awareness of social injustices and inspired many financial services leaders to a commitment to ensuring inclusivity.

Why be inclusive? According to research conducted by the CFA Institute, financial services organizations consider inclusivity good for business and the right thing to do. With more and more women taking control of the family’s finances, and nearly 25% of millionaires who are minorities, it can be costly to ignore diversity.1

How can you demonstrate diversity and inclusiveness to your clients?Build diversity in your workforce, so that it’s clear to your prospect base that you value the skill and talent of all. Let each target client segment know that you see, understand and respect them, and that you want to work with them. Write blog posts and other thought leadership letting them know how you can help them specifically, and make sure each target is represented in marketing imagery. 

Even Lululemon, under new leadership, has realized that inclusivity is good for business, and at the end of this month their stores will be stocked with plus sized yoga pants.

1 Distribution of U.S. millionaires by race/ethnicity as of 2013,

2 Driving Change: Diversity & Inclusion in Investment Management, CFA Institute, 2018,