Diversity in the workplace not only makes ethical sense and fulfills government mandates, but it actually fattens an enterprise's bottom line, according to a recent survey study performed by Canadian researchers. Led by Ryerson University (Toronto), the study found that diverse workforces are happier, more loyal and more productive.
Unfortunately, the study also found that some organizations only pay lip service to diversity and thus do not realize its benefits. However, enterprises that proactively seek to instill diversity into all levels of their organizations are rewarded with enhanced profits when they successfully overcome old-school biases that derail diversity efforts at less diligent enterprises.
The most successful organizations are those that have gone beyond what professor Kristyn Scott at Ryerson University calls "window dressing," but rather "have woven diversity into every fiber of its corporate culture and business practices." Scott performed the work with fellow professor Ted Rogers, as well as University of Toronto professor Joanna Heathcote and University of Guelph professor Jamie Gruman.
The researchers defined diversity not only as ethnicity, but also age, gender, educational background and professional experience. The group concluded that diversity fattens bottom lines. This conclusion was reached after surveying the results of 100 studies between 1991 and 2009 and measuring their reported results against the six key advantages of diversity. Those advantages include easier recruitment, greater creativity, better problem-solving, more flexibility (better reaction to change), lower cost (less employee turnover) and more successful marketing (stronger financial performance).
Results varied regarding the degree to which each of the six advantages was realized in any one organization. Nevertheless, overall the results were overwhelming in that the more enterprises implemented diversity in their corporate culture, the happier, more loyal and more productive was its workforce, resulting in greater corporate prosperity.
For diversity-embracing companies, "recruiting top talent becomes easier, group processes will be enhanced, which means employees are more likely to stay, which, in turn, increases the company's bottom line," said Scott.
To reap the real benefits, enterprises must do more than just talk the talk on diversity; they must walk the walk by enforcing a corporatewide cultural paradigm shift. In other words, diversity needs to be consistently enforced at all levels—from clerk to CEO, according to the researchers.
Campbell Soup Co. was cited by the Canadian researchers as a good example of an employer already proactive in diversity, with well-publicized efforts to level the playing field for women, homosexuals, Hispanics and Asians. The company also includes many training programs for managers on diversity awareness, inclusive leadership and how to maintain awareness of unconscious biases.