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7 Surprising Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI, or sometimes, DEI) are becoming increasingly familiar concepts in workplaces across the nation.  However, leaders who truly value diversity understand that knowing the terms is not enough.  Leaders must convince their employees that EDI matters.  Luckily, this task is easier than it seems.  Over the years, researchers have consistently found that EDI creates benefits for employees, customers, and organizations.  Here are seven surprising benefits of diversity in the workplace.

Benefit #1 – EDI Makes it Easier to Recruit and Retain Employees

The ability to attract dedicated employees is one of the key benefits of diversity.  In a strong economy, employers struggle to find quality employees because the applicant pool is smaller.  But organizations with strong EDI practices place themselves ahead of the curve in the race to find top talent.  A Glassdoor survey found that 67 percent of job seekers evaluate a company’s diversity practices before accepting a job offer.  For women and people of color, the survey numbers were substantially higher.  Nearly 75 percent of female candidates considered diversity a priority when choosing a job, as did nearly ninety percent of African American applicants.  Organizations that meet – or exceed – candidates’ EDI expectations get stronger applicants and better employees.

EDI practices don’t just bring employees in the door, they encourage them to stay.  Given the high costs associated with employee turnover, successful organizations literally cannot afford to lose employees.  However, employees flee companies without diversity.  Research from Deloitte found that 72 percent of employees surveyed would leave their company for a more diverse organization.  The survey also found 53 percent of millennial respondents had already done just that.  A clear EDI strategy can help organizations keep the best talent.

Benefit #2 – EDI Improves Employee Performance

Employees in diverse environments consistently outperform those in nondiverse organizations.  Multiple studies report that when employees feel valued for their uniqueness, they are happier and more productive.  On the other hand, when employees experience racism, sexism, homophobia, or other negative treatment, they react negatively.

Employees working in these unfriendly environments divert their focus to their worries rather than their work.  EDI policies keep employees happy, and happy employees are productive.

Benefit #3 – EDI Increases Innovation and Creativity

Diversity promotes creativity.  Fifty-six percent of international business leaders surveyed by Forbes “strongly agreed” that diversity improved innovation in their companies.  Moreover, a study of Australian employees found that employees in inclusive environments were 83 percent more productive than those in monocultural environments.  According to the Harvard Business Review, “Diversity unlocks innovation by creating an environment where ‘outside the box’ ideas are heard. When minorities form a critical mass and leaders value differences, all employees can find senior people to go to bat for compelling ideas and can persuade those in charge of budgets to deploy resources to develop those ideas.”  A clear EDI strategy allows employees to focus their mental energies on creative thinking.

Benefit #4 – EDI Makes Customers and Clients Happy

Diversity improves customer service.  While customers are always important, America becomes more racially and ethnically diverse each year.  So, the typical American consumer is changing.  Moreover, African American women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs.  So, the face of the business client is changing as well.  In this new reality, organizations will need diversity and cultural competence to compete.

Beyond individual clients and customers, corporate clients will also demand diversity.  Companies like Facebook and Verizon are already demanding diversity from the companies they hire.  If organizations want to survive and thrive in the new America, they will need workers that understand the needs of diverse customers and clients.

Benefit # 5 – EDI Opens New Markets

The world economy is more connected than ever.  Increasingly, American firms conduct business at home and abroad.  However, nondiverse companies may not be prepared to meet the challenges of a global marketplace.  American companies have had some high-profile failures overseas.  For instance, KFC began an ad campaign in China without realizing that the slogan “Finger lickin’ good” had been translated to “We’ll eat your fingers off.”  While these failures may be entertaining, for companies, they are costly and embarrassing.  Reducing the likelihood of international embarrassment is one of the many benefits of diversity.

Benefit # 6 – EDI Improves Brand

Diversity improves a company’s brand.  Recently, Sodexho reported that when its staff achieved optimal gender balance, its brand image improved by five percentage points.  Companies that respect diversity show consumers that they are forward-thinking, but those that fail to diversify risk being labeled as bland and out-of-date.  Also, in an increasingly diverse America, companies that value diversity also tell their customers that they are valued.  EDI helps companies shine in the marketplace.

Benefit #7 – EDI Increases Profits

Diversity is the right thing to do.  However, if morals aren’t a strong enough motivation, companies that diversify are more profitable than those that do not.   Research from McKinsey & Company found that the most diverse companies were 35 percent more likely to have above-average earnings in their industries.  Catalyst found that companies with three or more women on their boards had higher returns on equity, sales, and investments.  EDI gives companies an earnings edge in a competitive marketplace.

 

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion help companies improve their brands and their bottom lines.  To learn more about how your organization can obtain the skills necessary to reap the benefits of diversity, enroll in the Equity Toolkit e-courses. The Equity Toolkit is an interactive, four-course online series containing essential, research-based concepts on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

DeEtta Jones

DeEtta Jones is an invited speaker, equity, diversity and inclusion strategy consultant and author with more than twenty years of experience working with people from around the world to on personal effectiveness and building workforce capacity.

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