by Ken Sterling |
Proactively diversifying your workforce has tremendous positive impacts on the attitudes of your employees and the success of your company.

It may not be surprising to some, but there is strong evidence suggesting that a more diverse workplace has far-reaching effects on a company's productivity and growth. Having listened to countless business speakers discuss diversity, it's clear that it can only improve a company. Whether it's diversity in age, sex, race, sexual orientation, or even wealth, there are implications beyond the broader issues of morality and equality that highlight the need to hire a diverse staff.

By the Numbers

Study after study has shown that the more diverse a workplace is, the more success that company experiences. A Harvard Business School survey of 250 businesses found that those companies with greater diversity made between 18 to 69 percent more when it came to net income and operating revenue than those with a more homogenous team. Of those same companies, 91 percent with a diverse workforce reported greater customer satisfaction. Businesses with a gender-diverse board, meanwhile, saw a 42 percent higher returns in sales, 66 percent greater return on invested capital, and a 53 percent higher return on equity.

These substantial improvements can be seen across heavy influencers of a company's bottom line, from the corporate culture and recruitment to employee retention and fewer complaints. Across measurements of diversity, too, there is strong evidence supporting the importance of a varied workforce. Companies with the greatest ethnic and racial diversity are 35 percent more likely to see financial returns above their respective national industry medians, according to research conducted by McKinsey & Company. For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on senior executive teams, there is a corresponding .08 percent rise in earnings. What many of us have felt and known intuitively is becoming harder to ignore: diversity matters.

How Diversity Makes an Impact

Despite this overwhelming evidence, it can still be difficult to understand why a diverse workplace has the impact it does. In part, the answer can be found in the simple notion that two - or three, or four, or five - minds are better than one, and that five unique minds with various experiences, views, and approaches to life are better than a uniform collective.

The world is obviously not made up of a single kind of person. Having an internal environment that reflects this reality better positions a company to address the complex challenges that will inevitably arise. This may be why diverse businesses are able to attract the best talent and see higher levels of customer satisfaction. Important problem solving and decision making require dynamism and flexibility, qualities enhanced by a diverse workforce, because it literally makes us more creative and harder working.

Making a Change

For as much evidence exists pointing to the importance of workplace diversity, there is surprisingly little awareness around the issue. Following a massive survey of women working in tech, called Elephant in the Valley, in which the vast majority of whom shared similar workplace experiences of bias and harassment, most men were "simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace."

Starting conversations is a great place to start. One of the most effective ways to spark such conversations is by turning to a speakers bureaus [https://www.bigspeak.com] to hire the best human resources and leadership speaker available. By reaching your employees on a significant level, and challenging them to think about and face issues of workplace diversity, the best speakers can incite meaningful action throughout your company. It's time for a change.

Ken Sterling is the Chief Marketing Officer at BigSpeak speakers' bureau- the leading keynote and business speakers bureau in the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California and an MBA from Babson College. Sterling teaches Entrepreneurship, Marketing and Strategy at UC Santa Barbara. He is a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, business consultant, and sales and marketing expert. For press interviews, contact marketing@bigspeak.com.