Corporations Are People… So, Diversity Can Help Them Perform, But Nobody’s Actually Being Changed

Diversity is an empty word in much of corporate America.

Many companies invest in diversity efforts and appoint chief diversity officers, yet are disappointed with the meager results. Over the last 30 years there has been progress, but most agree the full opportunity has not been realized.

Thousands have made the business case for why diversity matters, and shown how it drives revenue, motivates employees, and fosters innovation. But for some reason, this often leads to unsatisfying debates without advancing diversity.

When employees look up and look to the left and right, what they see, they internalize. If they can see themselves, it gives them hope that they will be seriously listened to when approaching leaders with new product ideas, growth opportunities, or simply to connect. This hope fuels increased commitment which is needed for innovation and the attraction and retention of A-team players of all types.

The best workplaces forge bonds among co-workers of different political views, different backgrounds, different job titles… and that sense of community becomes palpable, noticeable, evident.

At a time when our national social fabric has frayed, workplaces that are great for all people can play an important role in mending America. These workplaces have recently shown an ability to openly handle adversity in a way that builds respect with employees via open CEO letters and dialogue sessions.

As it is, diversity often is treated as a necessary evil by companies. Diversity and Inclusion offices may be a way to avoid criticism or improve the organization’s reputation.

But, study after study has concluded that diverse workforces and teams boost business results. For example, ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform the national industry median, according to a 2015 McKinsey report. The same report found that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to have better financial returns.

Practices employers put in place to encourage inclusiveness aren’t magic. They’re simply the best efforts they can give to create better inercompany relations.

Among other things they:

  • Create employer resource groups for different communities that hold regular events and advocate for diversity awareness
  • Provide training on cultural sensitivity and recognizing unconscious bias
  • Use suppliers that also are committed to diversity and inclusion
  • Seek to improve diversity in recruiting and their talent pipeline through partnerships and scholarships

What else can be done?