Diversity and Its Competitive Advantage in Corporate America
Updated: Mar 23
“Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative. Those who embrace it will be more likely to prosper, and those who ignore it will be more likely to fail,” said Joyce Marie Beatty, a Democratic Representative for Ohio, before Congress, in 2019. She was leading the hearing for Good for the Bottom Line: A Review of the Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion that was held to evaluate the economic benefits that come from the implementation of diversity and inclusion in the corporate sector.
Even though the US’ corporate sector still has a long way to go to fully adopt the concepts of diversity and inclusion, thanks to leaders, like Joyce Beatty, the ideas have been getting more attention lately than they ever did. It is due to the efforts of these leaders that the benefits of having a diverse workforce are becoming so increasingly evident that corporate organizations find it hard to ignore them. As it has now become clear that a diverse workforce is not a challenge, rather it gives companies a competitive advantage over their competitors, an increasing number of organizations are revising their hiring policies.
For those who still do not have a clear idea, a diverse workforce can give a competitive advantage to a company by increasing innovation and problem-solving capacity. Having a diverse teams can also benefit organizations by creating a more open environment, where people are more accepting towards each other’s ideas and differences. An open environment leads to increased productivity and creativity, which in turn leads to the emergence of innovative solutions, reduced employee turnover, and improved reputation of the organizations, at large.
A diverse workforce is also known to help organizations generate higher revenues.
As quoted by Ross Tartell, the President of the Southern Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Talent Development (ATD), in one of his articles, the CEO of Pfizer once said, “Culture touches and influences every function in an organization, from research and development to manufacturing to sales. Get it right, and culture can transform your company’s performance and help sustain success for years to come. Get it wrong, and you’ll pay dearly for it…for years to come.”[ Tartell, R. (2014). If “Culture” Is Key, How Can Training Help? - Training (trainingmag.com)]
In the same article, Ross also shared the findings of an eleven-year long financial research conducted by John Kotter and James Heskett. The research involved the comparison of 12 companies that built an inclusive culture in their workspaces with the 20 companies that did not. The research findings showed that the companies that adapted diversity and inclusion achieved a higher financial return than the organizations that did not.
It’s important to note here that hiring people from different backgrounds just for the sake of having a diverse workforce won’t do you any good. Your real goal should be to build a strong, cohesive team where people support each other and work together towards a common goal. And this will only be possible when they’re all treated the same way, in terms of respect, opportunities, and rewards.