If you read this blog, you probably don't need to be convinced that working toward workplace parity and representation are good ideas, but maybe you need some information to help someone else in your life understand. The research is plentiful, and you know what it says: diversity - having different perspectives - and inclusion - the ability to weigh in regardless of your background - leads to better decisions. And when we ensure equity, then people don't have to spend their energy fighting for fairness or wondering how their inherent characteristics are affecting their opportunities and pay. This focused energy leads to more innovation and higher returns and better mission achievement for organizations.
For example, a 2004 Catalyst study showed that "companies with the highest representation of women had 35 percent higher return on equity and 34 percent higher total return to shareholders," and an FSG study showed that in addition to the $2 trillion missing from the US GDP because of racial wage disparities, our failure to have diversity of race in leadership cripples our ability to serve existing and new markets well, understand value chain productivity constraints, and depend on a nurtured, and therefore reliable, base of human capital to run organizations well.
Since the information is now readily available and the bench of research is now deep, what is holding organizational leaders back? Perhaps it's the sense that while important, these issues may not be urgent, but there's a case to be made for the urgency. For a while, we've been talking about what we can gain by adding efforts to improve on these issues in the workplace, but there hasn't been as much discussion about the risk it poses to a business (see my previous post about the potentially debilitating costs for small- and medium-sized businesses). Even with insurance, a lawsuit could cost a small- or medium-sized organization three quarters of a year in a leader's time and around $90,000. Feel urgent yet?
Stay tuned for a future post with some specific talking points for someone at any level of an organization to use and get some traction on a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative.