How Diversity Benefits the Bottom Line

“There are clear indications that diversity delivers measurable, positive performance outcomes for business. In fact, a diverse team will often outperform a homogenous team, even if the homogenous team has better qualifications or more experience. And, the more difficult the task, the more important diverse perspectives seem to be in achieving good outcomes.” From a late 2014 article from Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group, on the topic of diversity.

As it would happen, PwC found similar results in its 18th Annual Global CEO Survey. Diversity actually came out as one of the top five themes of this year’s report, broken down into the following three key takeaways:

1. Diversity is critical
It is not only necessary for senior management to keep diversity top of mind, but to also have a formal inclusiveness strategy in place. According to the report, “Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved the bottom line. And they also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.”

If you’re wondering what exactly an inclusion strategy is and how to create one, it’s simply this: A well thought-out and written plan of how a company or department is going to diversify itself including opportunities and active recruiting.

2. The right mix is necessary
The report makes it clear that companies are moving away from the practice of recruiting highly specialized individuals in exchange for those with a broad range of skills (where applicable). Doing so positions companies more competitively by enabling them to do more, but also opens up the possibilities when it comes to those who will fill these spots. To find the right talent, report says: “78% of CEOs say their business always uses multiple channels to recruit, while 71% say they actively search for talent in different geographies, industries and demographic segments.”

3. It’s going to take some time
Even though 85% of CEOs with inclusiveness strategies see or experience a positive relationship between it and the bottom-line, only roughly 30 percent of CEOs surveyed have a diversity and inclusiveness plan in place. Needless to say, it’s going to take some time to fully develop, but is one of those management actions that clearly has substantial benefit.

The relationship diversity has with the bottom-line is pretty easy to see. A company with a diverse workforce is likely to have a greater range in talent, making it more competitive and better positioned for success. PwC finds it’s for this reason that “companies are going to require people who are different across dimensions like gender, age and race, as well as those who are in different situations in life, those with different experiences and perspectives.”

If you don’t yet have a formal inclusiveness strategy in place, there’s no better time than the 2015 Objectives.

P.S., I just read a great article, Addressing Unconscious Bias, by Geena Davis in McKinsey Quarterly that is worth reading. She addresses the question: Does lopsided male representation in media skew our perceptions?

Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Advanced Leadership Consulting

carl @ leadershipconsulting.com

We help maximize the effectiveness of individuals and organizations by helping them improve their ability to lead, work together, select and develop their people.

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Carl is a business psychologist and leadership development expert who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. www.leadershipconsulting.com

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