I am not convinced that in 2019 I should need to be writing about this. Sadly, the fact remains that in many places we are a long way short of truly diverse workplaces. We will get there far quicker when people recognise the business as well as social and moral imperative for diversity in the workplace.
As long ago as 1990 the Harvard Business Review published “From Affirmative Action to Affirming Diversity”. The HBR noted:
In business terms, a diverse work force is not something your company ought to have; it’s something your company does have, or soon will have. Learning to manage that diversity will make you more competitive.”
Updated for the 21st Century and it would look like this:
“In business terms, a diverse stakeholder base – customers, workforce and suppliers is not something your company ought to have, it’s something your company does have, or soon will have”.
Innovative supportive cultures
In 2013: Deloitte published “Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup”? Deloitte concluded that when employees think their organisation is committed to, and supportive of diversity and they feel included, employees reported:
- 83% better business performance in terms of ability to innovate
- 31% increased responsiveness to changing customer needs
- 42% increase in team collaboration.
A 2017 McKinsey study on diversity and financial performance (updating their 2014 work) concluded that companies:
- Companies in the top quartile on ethnic and cultural diversity were 33% more likely to experience above average profitability than those in the fourth quartile;
- Companies in the top quartile on gender diversity at executive level teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.
Why you should embrace diversity in the workplace
None of this should come as a surprise. Committing to and delivering a diverse workplace culture leads to:
Quality recruitment: Valuing diversity not only gives you a wider and better talent pool to select, demonstrating diversity means that talent from that pool is more likely to join you.
Greater employee retention: Staff will generally be more committed to organisations where a diverse culture is valued and employees feel and see this commitment from you.
Increased engagement and productivity: Demonstrating a commitment to diversity will help deliver a more engaged, committed and productive workforce.
More informed decisions: Diverse teams are more likely to bring a plurality of views and multiple inputs to decision making – delivering better solutions and decisions.
Commitment to clients and suppliers: A clear commitment will give you wider market appeal. If you don’t, you may rule your business out of supplying to many customers.
Company branding and reputation will reduce risks of any legal problems. It may be blunt but equality is broadly speaking a requirement in law. Making a clear and unequivocal commitment to it is almost certain to save you considerable legal costs and risk to your reputation in the long term.
All the evidence is there. Diversity is not only the right thing to do it’s great for your business.
Are you pursuing it actively enough? What could you be doing in your organisation to understand and cater for the needs of diverse groups?