Thu 21 Nov 2019
In recent years, we have seen many of the world’s most successful organisations celebrating the positive impact of diversity on their business outcomes. The message is clear: greater diversity in organisations leads to greater diversity of thought. This, in turn, generates smart, innovative approaches to achieving business success.
Many of us know intuitively that diversity is good for business. The case for establishing a truly diverse workforce, at all organisational levels, grows more compelling each year. The moral argument is weighty enough, but the financial impact is also tangible and far-reaching.
Diversity has hugely positive effects on workplace culture, professional development and the financial bottom line. These gains, however, are only attainable with the cooperation and support of our colleagues, line managers and, ultimately, allies.
Whilst the most successful companies are reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce, many organisations still fail to think strategically about diversity and inclusion as a business opportunity, and how it could be the answer to some of their most pressing business problems. Indeed, 78% of UK companies have senior-leadership teams that fail to reflect the demographic composition of our workforce and population as a whole. This figure highlights that, for the majority of companies, much work remains to be done.
It is imperative we understand how diversity is better for everyone, not just those identifying as minorities, if real progress is to be achieved. Diversity is not just a metric to be strived for; it is an integral part of a successful revenue-generating business.
Research by some of the world’s most influential institutions, including the World Bank, Ernst & Young and McKinsey & Company has clearly demonstrated that the full economic participation of diverse demographics leads to greater competitiveness.
McKinsey’s Diversity Matters study found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity, meanwhile, see a 15% increase in profitability.
More widely, Deloitte’s annual Human Capital Trends Survey concludes that inclusive organisations are six times more likely to be innovative, three times more likely to be high-performing and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
It is well established, therefore, that talented leaders from diverse backgrounds change the work environment for the better, fostering improved financial results, retention and productivity.
Not surprisingly, most employees want to work for an organisation that values diversity. Fostering diversity in the workplace enhances an organisation’s ability to attract and retain top talent. Not only does it widen the pool of potential job applicants, it demonstrates a workplace culture that values all staff and demonstrates strong corporate and social responsibility.
It is safe to say, therefore, that diversity is a critical business issue, and consequently the conversation must include everyone. In an uncertain political and business climate, leaders must embrace the increasingly strong business case for diversity and inclusion—and the impact they can have as diversity allies.
To join the conversation around D&I in the workplace, please see our list of upcoming events. We particularly encourage attendance at our events by colleagues, line managers and allies – it’s imperative we get everyone involved in the conversation in order to enact tangible change.
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