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Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Birds of a Feather Fail Together: the Business Case for Diversity 0

Diversity is good for business. Equal opportunity is not only morally and ethically right, it’s also a better way to run a business. Here are some reasons why, and points to consider.

What’s intuitively obvious

DiversityIt’s pretty much accepted wisdom that when people come together in a common business, it’s better for them to have different skills and experience that the same thing. You want somebody good at sales, somebody good at marketing, somebody who likes managing the money, somebody who can produce whatever it is you sell, right? That’s aside from gender, ethnic, religious, age diversity. The idea is commonly accepted.

Go from there to the obvious parallel with diversity of vision, background, outlook, and experience within a single business culture. Think for just a moment about the larger vision involved in branding and marketing, expansion, and growth. Which is more likely to produce new ideas, early alerts of changes, awareness of new markets and new products: the birds of a feather who flocked together, or a group that includes different people with different backgrounds and ideas?

A collection of studies

I caught The Business Case for Diversity on the business2community blog. Fascinating. Here are some highlights:

  • Diverse companies outperform non-diverse companies by 35%, according to a McKinsey study cited in that post.
  • Sociologist Cedric Herring found that companies with the highest levels of racial diversity had, on average, 15 times more sales revenue than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity. Herring found that for every percentage increase in the rate of racial or gender diversity, there was an increase in sales revenues of approximately 9 and 3 percent, respectively.
  • A study at the Kellogg School of Management6 found that diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones because the presence of group members unlike yourself causes you to think differently.
  • In a Catalyst report called The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards7, researchers found that Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors performed better financially than those with the lowest representation of women on their board of directors.

Diversity is good for business

The bottom line, for me, is the bottom line: diversity is not just the future, not just the way the western world is going, not just a natural result of trends and technology, and not just morally and ethically right. It’s also good business.

(Image: Flicker Creative Commons, by croptrust)