The importance of diversity and inclusion is a topic that was little discussed in years past, but one that is becoming ever more important and gaining increasing interest among scholars and business leaders every year. Over several posts, we’ll look at the topics of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. First, we’ll discuss their importance generally, then we’ll look at how employees perceive the importance of diversity and inclusion, and finally we’ll look at some ways your company can work to improve diversity and inclusion.
To get started, let’s be clear that while we agree with the notion, we aren’t arguing that diversity and inclusion should be pursued because it’s the “right” thing to do or because it’s “nice.” Rather, we are making the point that diversity and inclusion are objectively good for business.
That’s a point that Shirley Engelmeier, founder and CEO of InclusionINC, has been stressing for a number of years. Inclusion, says Engelmeier, is “a business imperative” and, importantly, it’s a must-have to ensure that organizational diversity is leveraged. It’s not enough to have a diverse workforce if that workforce does not feel included!
Let’s take a look at why diversity is a business imperative.
Connecting with American Markets
America is becoming an increasingly diverse country. According to the Pew Research Center, by the year 2055, the United States won’t have a single racial or ethnic majority. This is just one statistic that reveals the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of our home market. Having a diverse workforce is essential to understanding and connecting with that market.
Connecting with Global Markets
At the same time the American market is becoming more diverse, the sources of buying power are becoming more diverse and international. Countries like China, India, Brazil, and nations in Africa continue to grow in their share of global spending. To connect with these markets, it’s critical that companies understand them.
Diverse workplaces bring diverse viewpoints and diverse insights that can help organizations find new ways of doing things and new ways of solving problems.
Diversity and inclusion are not just hot topics—they are strategies for good business. An article for Fortune.com by Grace Donnelly points out that organizations in the top quartile for diversity realize financial returns of more than 35 percent greater than other companies, according to SAP chief diversity and inclusion officer Anka Wittenburg, writing for Fortune, and quoting a McKinsey study. “She also pointed to a study from Bersin by Deloitte that found over a 3-year period, diverse companies see 2.3 times the cash flow per employee when compared to their less diverse peers,” says Donnelly.
Here we looked at three specific reasons diversity and, especially, inclusion are important for business. But we didn’t even touch on a fourth: your employees crave diversity—and inclusion. That will be the subject of our next post on this topic.