Diversity in business is a hot topic right now.
There are diversity awards and diversity reviews, and many governments have introduced or strengthened diversity and equality legislation to promote equal opportunity in the workplace.
It turns out that diversity and diverse job boards is giving too much for business. There is a growing body of research showing that businesses with a more diverse workforce perform better on a range of measures, from more money to more innovative ideas.
In fact, in this article, you’ll learn ten key ways your business can benefit from having a more diverse workforce. I’ll look at some examples and show you why, in addition to being just “good,” there’s a strong business case for increasing diversity.
Promoting diversity in your business is easier said than done, and we’ll look at how to do it effectively later in this series. But for now, let’s focus on why this is so.
You will make more money.
Let’s start with the bottom line. Simply put, studies have shown that companies with a more diverse workforce make more money. Actually a lot more money.
For example, a McKinsey study found that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have an average financial return. For gender diversity, this number is 15%. Companies in the bottom quartile for diversity were also less likely to outperform the industry average.
In the US, a study found that for every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity in the senior leadership team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased by 0.8%. This increase was even higher (3.5%) in the UK.
If you are a business owner, you know how hard it is to move the needle on your profits. Therefore, these results are certainly significant.
And remember that this McKinsey study is just one example. There are many other studies that have come to similar conclusions. Check out this Catalyst report for a good summary of research from around the world, mostly focused on gender diversity, demonstrating time and time again that more diverse companies are striving to outperform their competitors.
Another key benefit: More diverse teams tend to be more innovative. Employees’ ability to innovate increases by 83 percent when they “believe their organization is committed to and supportive of diversity, and feel included,” according to a Deloitte study.
After all, it makes sense. New ideas emerge when people are confronted with different opinions and are forced to rethink their assumptions. If you want to be at the forefront, having a lot of employees who think the same way is not a good recipe.
Want more proof? This 30-year study of US patents in the IT industry found that teams with a mix of men and women produce patents that are cited by other researchers 30-40% more than average (citations are often used as a measure of value in research). The study concludes that it is possible that “originality and diverse thinking” are responsible, although more research is needed to substantiate causality.
Expanded talent pool.
Hiring the right employees can be tough. Your business needs a certain set of skills, and finding people with those skills, who are willing to work, who live in the right place, and who also have the right personality and motivation to join your company is difficult.
Now imagine eliminating half of the available talent. How much more difficult would it be to find the right people?
This is exactly what many companies do when they hire only men for key positions. They cut their options even further when they exclude gays, people with disabilities, people of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds, and so on.
(Note that when I say “exclude” I don’t necessarily mean openly and consciously. These days, few firms would advertise that certain groups are not welcome. But if you have a workplace that is not accessible to people with disabilities possibilities, you’ve excluded them by default.It’s easy to exclude other groups without intending to, too.