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Take Action: Build an Infrastructure Based on Diversity

Companies with an infrastructure that encompasses the ideals of diversity drive business success on many fronts. How do you take action?

Written by Katy Thompson

There is a shift happening, and it is impossible to ignore. There is a growing significance positioned on creating work environments where there are a variety of voices. The depth and scope of inclusive environments have a measurable impact, and because of this, stakeholders are seeking organizations that actively and openly apply a diverse business philosophy.

Exploring the data of diversity

Companies with an infrastructure that encompasses the philanthropic ideals of equality drive business success on many fronts. According to the most recent study on the impact of inclusion and diversity by McKinsey & Company in 2018, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to be above-average in profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. For ethnic/cultural diversity, top-quartile companies were 33% more likely to outperform on profitability, but that is not all. The relationship between diversity and improved business performance persists.

Research shows that diverse teams tend to be more innovative. Companies that have more varied management offer a 19 percent higher revenue because of innovation when compared with companies with below-average diversity. Not only are they more innovative, but diverse teams make decisions two times faster on average because they are more likely to focus on the facts. Employees want to reap the benefits of this environment. Surveys report that employees would consider leaving an organization for one that is more inclusive, leaving those behind the curve lacking in productivity, profitability, and long-term stability.

Taking action to make it happen

There is a clear opportunity for companies to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the company, and especially in executive teams and senior decision-making roles. The challenging aspect of building an infrastructure based on diversity is acting. In the 2018 McKinsey study, 17 companies leading the way in diversity shared their experiences, and from these experiences, there are four imperatives for delivering impact through inclusion and diversity.

  1. Business leaders must clearly state a riveting vision, doused with real accountability for delivery that will cascade throughout middle management.
  2. Inclusion and diversity must be connected to a growth strategy, and the priorities should be defined based on what will drive the design. The leading companies accomplish this task in a data-driven way.
  3. Develop an initiative portfolio that highlights how the company will pursue its goals for inclusion and diversity, which should be tailored to growth priorities and investments.
  4. Diversity initiatives should be well-suited to the relevant business market or geographic region.

Keep in mind that the correlation does not mean causation; however, the statistically significant relationship between high levels of diversity in business leadership to the financial performance does spark action.

It is what stakeholders want to see

A diverse team connects with investors and customers alike. Today’s investors are keeping a close eye on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) when it comes to whom they support. Investment groups seek out companies that actively and openly advocate for diversity and acknowledge it as a core value.

When we recognize that diversity is linked with greater innovation, increased efficiency, attracting top talent, and better ESG profiles, companies can start to implement strategies to increase diversity that will lead to rising profitability.

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