At first the idea of championing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace as anything other than a social responsibility didn’t feel right, but DEI in the workplace deserves to be looked at through a broader lens as there are so many benefits to having a diverse workforce that businesses might not have considered. For some time now we have been talking to our customers and sharing insight that demonstrates there is “commercial value” in having a diverse and inclusive organisation.
You may (or may not) be surprised to know that not all business leaders find “the right thing to do” as a convincing enough reason to consider DEI at the top of the agenda. But when you layer in evidence that a diverse workforce can but also provide businesses with a competitive advantage, drive innovation and in turn success, then this certainly makes the case a compelling one.
A diverse workplace can stimulate innovation.
How? By challenging conventional thinking, encouraging fresh ideas and promoting creative problem-solving. According to the Neuro Leadership Institute in their piece Why Diverse Teams Outperform Homogenous Teams they refer to research studies where “diverse groups with people who have different backgrounds, genders, experiences and perspectives consistently generate more innovative solutions than homogeneous groups. Embracing diversity unlocks the potential for innovative products, services, and approaches.”
Forbes released an article earlier this year that spoke of the power of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and success, they argue that having a diverse and inclusive workforce will give organisations looking to thrive in today’s evolving workplace a strategic advantage. Not only that but “by building diverse workforces, organisations can propel innovation, improve company decision-making, and create an engaging and supportive work environment. Through leadership commitment, inclusive recruitment practices and cultural development, organisations can unlock the full potential of their teams and position themselves for long-term success.”
DEI can generate real commercial value.
I love this TedTalk from Rocío Lorenzo on how diversity makes teams more innovative. She talks about research conducted with several organisations across Europe that demonstrated how having more women in leadership roles could have a direct link to innovation and specifically innovation revenue - and this is just measuring diversity related to one demographic (not necessarily considering intersectionality).
Innovation Management's article about the impact of DEI on innovation also provides some interesting stats that support this. They report that companies with higher levels of diversity are “45% more likely to report that their organisation’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% more likely to report that they captured a new market. Additionally, organisations with more ethnic and racial diversity report 2x the innovation revenue.”
Candidate attraction – DEI setting businesses apart from competitors.
But most importantly a diverse, inclusive and innovative environment can also help set businesses apart from competitors in the marketplace when it comes to candidate attraction and can be a vital component to engaging top talent from all demographics.
For younger talent especially, organisations who have a strong focus on DEI is imperative. A survey from the job board Monster.com reports that 83% of Gen Z respondents said that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. And for these young workers, DEI goes beyond gender, sexuality, race and age. It’s also about different points of view being recognised and respected in the workplace.
The evidence speaks for itself. If business leaders need any more convincing beyond doing the right thing when it comes to truly embracing DEI at the top of their agenda, then the research and results are all there.
Diversity in the workplace is not just the right thing to do, it will drive innovation, support greater candidate attraction, boost the bottom line and deliver success.