The Business Case for Diversity
A more diverse workforce is a nice idea, but does not automatically produce benefits for an organization. Merely recruiting and retaining more people from underrepresented (female, racial) backgrounds while business is continued as usual is not enough.
According to Ely and Thomas, companies need to do 4 things to truly benefit from diversity:
- Create a psychologically safe workplace to build trust.
- Educate leaders and actively combat systems of discrimination and subordination.
- Embrace a wide range of styles of employees from different identity groups.
- Make cultural differences a resource for learning and improving organizational effectiveness, encouraging and learning from open discussions about how diversity and inclusion work and should work inside and outside the organization.
They stress that a mere focus on economic gains - even if ultimately needed to justify the investments - diminishes the sense of employees and responsible investors that diversity and equality are considered itself important
. That makes a lot of sense to me.
❗ Please share what you learned when you were responsible for increasing diversity and inclusion in your firm. Did you have any problems with the business case or explaining why it is a good idea to invest in it?
Source: Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas. Getting Serious About Diversity, HBR Nov-Dec 2020, pp. 114-122.