Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush grew up in Oakland, California, watching his hard-working father defy odds at every turn to build a successful carpentry business as a Black man.
Naturally, Bush fell in love with business as a young boy and, motivated by his father’s journey, has dedicated much of his career to championing inclusive working conditions.
Now, Bush and his fellow global workplace culture experts at Great Place to Work have crafted a guideline of practices and behaviors to ensure equal opportunities that make for better business, fulfilled people and a more inclusive world.
A Great Place to Work For All was released on March 13.
“I didn’t want to write another book about what’s the morally right thing to do or that you should have diverse people in your work force because we’ve been saying those things for 30 years and it hasn’t made any difference,” Bush tells PEOPLE. “I felt we needed to work very hard to show that creating a great place to work for all, which meant that everybody has the same opportunities for promotion and development. It’s going to make you more money, period.”
In the book, Bush and the Great Place to Work research team tackle everything from “maximizing human potential” and financial growth to past practices and a “high-trust culture.” The team leaves no stone unturned, writing, “What was good enough to be ‘great’ 10 or 12 years ago is not good enough now. To survive and thrive in the future, organizations have to build Great Places to Work For All.”
For Bush, his business prowess and commitment to diversity stems from his childhood.
“I liked reading the business section probably starting at age 12. My father would read the sports page and I would read the business section,” he tells PEOPLE. “On the TV show, Leave It to Beaver, Ward Cleaver would come home and walk in the door with a briefcase and a shirt and tie and a jacket. I was like, ‘That’s what I want.’ ”
However, he learned from his father’s experience that business wasn’t always so glamorous for Black men and women.
“It was so attractive to me that my father ran his own business, even though it was very difficult for him being a Black man,” Bush tells PEOPLE. “He succeeded and you couldn’t stop him. He would finish the job, people wouldn’t pay him and there was no recourse then. But he would keep going. He did everything required to grow his business and to take care of his family. He showed me how to be unstoppable.”
Now, Bush says he hopes the new book will let those in leadership positions know that diversity is about much more than simply treating someone with respect.
“People like me, if they work super hard and deliver value, they’re gonna get treated like everyone else. That’s proof of respect,” he begins. “But the ultimate show of respect in business is through opportunity and recognition and reward and promotion. I should be able to see people who are different like me at the top of businesses because that’s the ultimate show of respect.”
The Great Place to Work research team consists of Ed Frauenheim, Jessica Rohman, Sarah Lewis-Kulin, Ann Nadeau and Marcus Erb.