There has been a lot of conversation about diversity lately. Like, a lot.
The noticeable impact of diversity—or, in many cases, the lack of it—has created a tidal wave of discussion this past year. Movements like Black Lives Matter and the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once again brought issues like racial and gender equality back to the forefront of business consciousness. Outside social issues are bringing to light what D&I professionals have known for years: that a truly competitive business must possess a diverse workforce. Josh Bersin, the president and founder of Bersin & Associates, wrote in 2018 that diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives aren’t just an HR program, but a business strategy.
The sad truth is, if organizations hired based on skills alone, most companies would likely already be quite diverse. There is no shortage of underrepresented talent in every industry. The truth is that bias, broken rungs, and a lack of diversity at the top level of leadership can all prevent businesses from hiring the person who is truly a great fit for the position. Businesses that don’t invest in diversity are hindering their own potential productivity and profitability.
Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just impact your employer brand or your reputation among consumers. How diverse a company’s workforce is directly affects their profitability. To remain a strong contender in a global marketplace, it’s vital that your staff be as varied as your clientele. The hallmarks of a successful company, such as innovative products and ideas, strong problem-solving, and high revenue, are also hallmarks of a company that has invested in fostering a diverse workforce.
The reason for this is simple: people are different. When people are different, they bring a variety of skills, resources, and backgrounds to the table. When everyone has similar cultures, backgrounds, and ideals, however, they’re far more likely to have similar skills, resources, and ways of thinking. By creating homogeneous environments, companies hamstring their own efforts to innovate and react to market changes. The proof is in the pudding: a McKinsey study found that ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to outperform their competitors.
Other, lesser known benefits of a diverse workforce include:
It won’t be long before the performance gap between heterogeneous and homogeneous companies begins to widen. Now that organizations are investing in diversity on a widespread scale, the business world is seeing a massive D&I experiment in action. Which initiatives will create actionable change and which are just empty PR?
Our prediction? The businesses that take active steps towards recruiting, hiring, and promoting underrepresented talent will see big dividends on their ROI. Creating a diverse workforce is a huge competitive advantage, and businesses that don’t prioritize it will find themselves left behind by their audience and competitors. For example, Victoria Secret, which famously refused to diversify their runway models, is now struggling to keep up with their more inclusive competitor Savage X Fenty.
The markets have sent a message loud and clear: to remain competitive in today’s markets, diversity is no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity that provides a clear-cut advantage. If your company wants the best talent, they must invest in diverse talent. Companies need to take steps now to diversify or risk being left behind in the dust.
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