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The business case for diversity itself is becoming well-established. In January 2015, McKinsey published a report that stated: “Our latest research finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians … and diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time”.
But what about the distinction between Diversity on the one hand and Diversity & Inclusion on the other, as referred to in Fact 2? Do we have any evidence that diversity of thought brings any measurable benefits?
In partnership with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Deloitte Australia has undertaken research into the relationship between diversity and inclusion and business performance. And the results showed that not only does inclusion – which effectively means allowing diversity of thought – influence employees’ perceptions of business performance but also correlates to enhanced levels of actual business performance.
Certainly in terms of whether or not employees felt that they were part of a high performing organisation, the research indicated that there is a clear distinction between organisations that simply play the numbers game – in other words, fulfil their quotas and think that’s the end of the story – and those that positively seek out contributions from traditionally underrepresented groups.
And the lesson is clear. Encouraging diversity of thought grants access to the ideas that can fuel innovation and create competitive advantage – even when (or perhaps we should say, precisely because) those ideas may well challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.