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Updated: October 26, 2020 Outside the box

Are you still asking why diversity matters?

A picture of Bonnie J. Walker Image | Courtesy of Bonnie J. Walker Bonnie J. Walker
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If you are still asking this question, then you are behind the times. If your business is still thriving without attention to diversity and inclusion, I can promise you your organization is going to plateau or go under, sooner rather than later, as more culturally attuned organizations outperform yours. Data backs this up.

D&I drives employee productivity

• Teams with inclusivity make decisions 2x faster, in half the meetings.

• Employees in diverse and inclusive firms show 26% more collaboration and 18% more commitment.

D&I fosters creativity and innovation

• When employees believe their organization is committed to diversity and they feel included, innovation is increased by 83%.

• Companies fulfilling a series of nine positive diversity requirements – including women and minority CEOs and positive policies on LGBTQIA+ employees – announced on average two or more products a year compared to their less-diverse competitors.

D&I grows your talent pool

• 67% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is a crucial when evaluating job offers. 72% of women, 89% of Black people, 80% of Asian people, and 70% of Latinos look at D&I in leadership.

• 78% of companies prioritize diversity to improve culture, and 62% prioritize it to boost financial performance.

D&I reduces employee turnover

• Companies with more diverse teams have 22% lower turnover rates.

• Inclusive companies are 3.8x more likely to coach people for improved performance, 3.6x better able to deal with personnel performance problems, and 2.9x more likely to build leaders.

D&I increases profits and grows market

• Companies where women make up at least 15% of senior managers see 50% higher profitability than those where female representation is less than 10%.

• The 50 companies on Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Diversity list average 24% higher annual revenue growth.

How to better support D&I

Be aware of unconscious bias. Build awareness and educate employees about unconscious bias. Encourage every employee to review, question and analyze their own personal biases and assumptions. Employees need tools and training to provide guidance on actions.

Offer diversity-centered training. This helps employees understand how cultural differences can impact how people work. Support employee professional learning and development designed to promote D&I efficacy. Provide opportunities to attend webinars, conferences and training.

Make it easy for your people to participate in inclusive programs. An executive can help to increase visibility, innovation and awareness, and can help align affinity activities with business goals, and signal a wider, organizational commitment to improving diversity.

Mix up your teams. A diverse cross-section of talent allows enhanced perspective, which will spur creativity. If your team is homogeneous, invite a guest with a different gender, cultural background, or age, to weigh in.

Consider diversifying benefits packages. Offer benefits packages taking into account a diverse workforce. Examples: on-site daycare services and several options suiting the needs of employees with diverse home situations.

Performance evaluation. Employee performance reviews should gauge progress toward diversity objectives and what a specific employee has or has not done to promote diversity.

Rather than asking, “Why does diversity matter?” the better question is, “What does support for organizational culture at work look like, so that my organization can harness diversity and practice inclusion in a meaningful way?”

Bonnie J. Walker is the director of equity and inclusion at Worcester Academy, plying this arena in education in Mass. for 16 years. Contact her at

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