The Value of Diversity: Increasing Your Business Productivity
By: Karle Stinehour
(Estimated Reading Time 5.5 mins)
Filling knowledge gaps and building awareness in the workplace. It’s how DigitalChalk serves the small to midsized business segment. In a previous post on gender diversity, we looked at the legal and financial risks associated with failing to comply with anti-discrimination laws and how to mitigate those risks. Today we’ll explore how a gender-diverse workplace actually increases productivity.
- McKinsey and Company in a survey of 101 private, public, and nonprofit institutions, found that an organization with three or more women in executive or board positions outperformed other companies in the categories of “leadership, direction, accountability, coordination and control, external orientation, capability, work environment, and values” (“Women Matter: Gender Diversity, a Corporate Business Driver,” McKinsey and Company).
- According to the American Sociological Review, companies with higher race and gender diversity have “higher sales revenue, more customers, greater market shares, and greater profits than companies with less diversity “(“Does Diversity Pay,” Cedric Herring, author).
- A survey from the Lehman Brothers Center for Women in Business shows that gender-balanced teams are more likely to “experiment, be creative, share knowledge, and complete tasks” (“Innovative Potential: Men and Women in Teams,” Lehman Brothers Center for Women in Business).
Though statistical correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, the evidence strongly suggests that companies with higher gender diversity appear to be more successful businesses. Let’s look at a possible reason why.
Unconscious Bias and Gender Discrimination
Understanding the role of unconscious bias in ourselves and in the workplace is a critical first step in addressing the issue of gender discrimination.
The consulting firm, PeopleFluent, defines unconscious bias as “A subjective preference toward a particular viewpoint or belief that prevents a person from maintaining objectivity.”
Malcolm Gladwell discusses implicit bias in Blink, his bestseller:
“All of us have implicit biases to some degree. This does not necessarily mean we will act in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner, only that our first “blink” sends us certain information. Acknowledging and understanding this implicit response and its value and role is critical to informed decision-making and is particularly critical to those whose decisions must embody fairness and justice.”
Unconscious bias arises from our upbringing, cultural experiences, and media exposure, and we need to be aware that they can affect our opinions of the people we work with. We do not want our unconscious biases about gender to negatively influence our ability to make good business decisions, to work well on teams, to tap into everyone’s full potential – in short, to see beyond our gender biases and see the people. That’s how gender diversity builds successful businesses.
So what’s the strategy? As with most things, there are many options to consider when implementing a gender diversity program. A 2017 Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Global Gender Diversity Survey provides some suggestions on things that work and things that don’t.
In the words of David A. Kravitz, a business professor at George Mason University “gender diversity may help group performance,” and on the other hand, “a lack of gender diversity may cause problems because “firms with few women . . . are more likely to embrace stereotypical gender roles” (“More Women in the Workplace: Is There a Payoff in Firm Performance,” David A. Kravitz, author).
What You Have to Gain
Put simply, a workplace is most productive when the employees feel valued for their contributions rather than feeling pigeonholed into stereotypical roles based on unconscious bias.
DigitalChalk Can Help
Many companies establish diversity programs that create an outward appearance of effectiveness and high productivity, yet many of these same companies fail to incorporate their initiatives in a way that sees real results. For example, another 2017 BCG survey, “Getting the Most From Your Diversity Dollars”, reported that of their correspondents, 91% said that their company implemented a gender diversity program, yet only 27% said that they personally benefited from it. Well thought out training in gender diversity and unconscious bias can bolster the effectiveness of your diversity initiatives and help you attain the measurable success you are looking for.
Let us help with some heavy lifting. The online training courses from our on-demand learning library can help bolster your learning and development program in this important area.