In 2015, McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, released a study entitled Diversity Matters. The study examined data from 366 public companies across a range of industries in Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All numerical results pointed to one fact: diversity is a driver of success.
Companies who ranked in the top 25% for diversity outperformed the norms for financial returns for their industry. In fact, the top 25 most ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry norm than the bottom quartile or 25% least ethnically diverse companies. The top 25% for most gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above the industry norm than the bottom quartile or 25% least gender diverse.
Of course, diversity does not automatically translate into profit, but diverse leadership signals successful characteristics within a company.
But why? Because diverse companies are better equipped to do three things:
- Recruit and retain top talent because people see leaders & co-workers who look like them, creating a more comfortable and secure work environment.
- Better understand and serve customers, because the people who work there reflect the communities and markets they’re in.
- Avoid group-think and engage in healthy conflict with a diversity of backgrounds and opinions represented for better decisions.
It seems simple. However, unconscious bias often sways companies to hire employees who look and act like them. This makes it difficult to hire based on true talent instead of stereotypes.
The key to avoiding unconscious bias seems to be awareness. That key factor applies to absolutely everyone, (check out this interesting Ted Talk entitled “White Men: Time to Discover Your Cultural Blind Spots”).
Can we truly learn to see people as simply people, allowing their talent to shine above their skin color, gender, or sexual orientation? While much progress has been made, there is still much work to do. We must continue to step outside of our comfort zone to create a culture of acceptance and success. While incredibly simple, the process is difficult. However, the results are ultimately achievable and definitely desirable.