The Undeniable Impact of Workplace Diversity [Infographic]

Workplace diversity is not a new topic. And yet, the world of work hasn’t made nearly enough progress in gender, cultural, and ethnic diversity.

The prevailing wisdom: Today’s business leaders (many of whom are older white males) still don’t fully understand the importance of workplace diversity. That perhaps, if those leaders were aware of diversity’s impact on their bottom line, they’d deliberately tie business goals to building a diverse workforce.

Consider the latest data points available to us, as shown in the infographic below from CoachDiversity Institute:

  • 60 percent of employees have seen or experienced discrimination at work
  • 41 percent of managers say they are too busy to incorporate diversity into their work routines
  • Of those people in the C-suite, only 4 percent are women of color, and just 10 percent are men of color
  • By almost 4:1, white men outnumber white women in executive positions

Workplace Diversity: Time for Change

Yes, it is time for real change. In fact, for several years, the carefully-gathered evidence has been irrefutable: The businesses that maintain a diverse culture far outperform the competition:

  • Companies with the highest gender diversity are 25 percent more likely to have higher profits
  • Companies with higher cultural and ethnic diversity are 36 percent more likely to have above-average profits
  • 57 percent of employees want their companies to be more diverse
  • 64 percent of job candidates say diversity and inclusion are critical considerations when accepting a job
  • 87 percent of the time, more diverse teams make better decisions than individual decision-makers
  • More diverse companies are 1.7x more innovative than less diverse companies

The data is clear: Business leaders must begin to create diverse workplaces more deliberately. But first, they must start intentional conversations.

How to Talk About Diversity

For some time, meaningful conversations about diversity have taken a back seat to lip service. After all, when pressed, business leaders have shown a tendency to say all the right things versus doing what is right. So how do we start the tough conversations that lead to quantifiable change?

This is where we really appreciate the infographic by CoachDiversity. Here, you’ll see how to start and continue the much-needed conversations in your business. From expecting and welcoming diverse viewpoints to encouraging more listening than talking and underscoring the common goal even during the most challenging conversations, it’s in here.

Take a few minutes to review this insightful infographic. Embrace just how essential diversity is to the business world. Then start a tough but oh-so-necessary conversation about workplace diversity in your company.


Editors’ Note: March is Women’s History Month, where we commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. To learn more, click here.


workplace diversity

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

Promoting Diversity and Maintaining an Inclusive Culture

As the spotlight has brightened on racism. In response to recent miscarriages of justice, the emphasis on identifying racism within other aspects of life has also grown. As business leaders, it is vital to stand with the advocacy for change. Although oftentimes difficult, encouraging honest discussions around diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is crucial. 

For many, this conversation is not new. Dated ideologies and racist operations have influenced hiring practices regularly. Those out-of-date paradigms have also permitted a single race and gender to employ higher positions for decades. According to Fortune, high-ranking officials within 16 of the Fortune 500 companies are 80% men, and 72% of those men are white. In order to break this flawed mold and implement diversity, much work has to be done by industry leaders. 

The Advantages of Promoting Diversity and Inclusivity

Fostering a diverse and inclusive organization has many benefits such as increased profit, impressive talent acquisition, as well as the strengthening of employee bonds. Yes, conversations surrounding diversity and inclusivity can be difficult. However, this is the opportune time for leaders to disrupt archaic norms. And it is the perfect time to implement hiring practices that seek out brilliant talent from every background. 

So, what can business owners and leaders do to promote diversity and maintain an inclusive culture? With these advantages below, leaders across any industry can recognize the essential nature of workplace diversity. 

Financial Gain 

From a business standpoint, racial diversity in the workplace isn’t merely a perk. In fact, diversity is a necessity for competitiveness in corporate America. Not only do inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, but many consumers actively seek out organizations with diverse decision-makers. Additionally, these brands can also build stronger audience connections. 

Further, it is no secret that marketing a business can be difficult. However, inclusive marketing can be a different beast altogether. Within marketing, there is a heavy lack of cultural intelligence from brands, and this void can result in minimized profits as some audiences won’t purchase from you due to a lack of acknowledgment. Campaigns without cultural intelligence run the risk of coming off as tone-deaf or insensitive. They perhaps then result in public outcry, concluding in a company apology with a promise to “do better.” 

By investing in employees with different perspectives, lived experiences, and understandings of diverse markets, you can promote your business from several unique standpoints and gain a competitive edge. This allows a separation from competitors, and perhaps engagement from consumers outside of initial target audiences. Subsequently, you can net greater profits, while exhibiting your care for people of different races, genders, ages, sexualities, and identities. 

Expanded Talent Pool 

 For most leaders in the highly competitive business world, acquiring the best talent is priority. Exclusively employing talent of a particular ethnicity, age, or gender minimizes the talent pool you can choose from. With that said, having an organization run by one race or gender can only reflect narrow perspectives. That scenario, perhaps inadvertently, also demonstrates to the public that you don’t recognize a necessity for diverse opinions.

Hiring with cultural diversity in mind — which encapsulates race, culture, age, religion, sexuality, and gender identity — expands your talent pool. This expansion permits your organization to solely focus on what candidates can bring to the table such as: skill sets, experience, and creativity. By eradicating those subconsciously biased candidate limitations, you can prioritize and encourage mind-expansion and exploration for your company. This can equate to bigger, brighter innovations that may not have been otherwise explored. This eradication also improves your brand’s attractiveness and invites new consumers. 

As your organization flourishes due to new minds with intersectional inputs, your brand has the opportunity to convey a modern attractiveness that invites more talent acquisition, fortuitous business opportunities and more financially prosperous avenues. 

Better Engagement and Satisfaction 

As one can probably imagine, being a “token” person of color in the workplace isn’t fun. When employees work amongst others who look like them or share lived experiences, a workplace confidence is bred, thus inspiring collaboration, innovation and creativity to take place. 

Employees need their ideas, opinions and perspectives to matter. Likewise, employees want to work for a company that entrusts people like them who also actively advocate for positive change. When employees feel respected and valued, especially if they may have endured ridicule in the past, aspects of work like productivity, engagement, and overall satisfaction within the workplace is improved. 

This is vital because boosts in company morale and workplace culture only benefit your organization. Happy employees equate to enhanced production, which equates to higher brand attractiveness and in turn, increased company profits. 

Maintaining an Understanding Organization and Prioritizing Inclusion

In efforts to promote diversity within your organization, below are a few strategies to help start off the process of consistently seeking to be more understanding and inclusive.

Take an Honest Internal Look

How do you assess the current state of diversity within your organization? Analyze how many people of color you currently employ, as well as previously hired and sought out for recruitment. This can provide insight on the level of (or lack of) diversity. This data can also show any discriminatory biases that occur within your company, unknowingly or otherwise. 

Consistently Educate Yourself and Your Staff

There are many misconceptions around what discrimination looks like. So it is important to outline what words and behaviors are unacceptable at work. Teach your staff about micro-aggressions and what discrimination may look like to people of various, intersecting backgrounds. In addition to this, be sure to emphasize the impacts of discrimination, big or small, and stress a no-tolerance policy. 

Promote an Open Dialogue

In efforts to grasp difficult topics, learn from each other and get to know each other on a personal level. Encourage employees to unpack biases and/or racist tendencies. Emphasize how harmful it is to act on those beliefs. During these discussions, tread lightly. After all, you don’t want to offend employees, Nor do you want to force someone to discuss personal adversity.  

As industry leaders, this is your chance to spearhead positive change by implementing workplace diversity and inclusivity. It is important to note that no one has all the “right” answers respective to ending discrimination in the workplace. No one can tell you exactly how to eradicate biases. Nonetheless, these issues are serious. And organizations must diligently protect those at risk of enduring injustices.

Overall, focus on harmonizing the workplace by creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone — irrespective of race, gender, age, sexuality, disability, identity, and/or religion.

#WorkTrends Preview: Workplace Diversity is More Than Just a Business Imperative

Workplace diversity is not just a phrase to be bandied about. It goes deeper than what can be seen by internal and external stakeholders. It’s a business operative and more than that, a moral issue that cuts to the heart of why companies need to show their inclusive human side to everyone.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 1pm EST, host Meghan M.Biro sits down with Rob Cahill, CEO and Suzanne Leung, VP of Sales at Jhana to discuss the myriad benefits of a diverse culture and how they address diversity at Jhana.

Workplace Diversity is More Than Just a Business Imperative

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Join Rob, Suzanne, and me on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Feb 1 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why is workplace diversity more than a business decision?  #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can companies integrate diversity initiatives into their culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: What are the financial benefits of a diverse workforce? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!


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For True Diversity We Must Guard Against Otherness

At this time in our nation’s history it is pretty clear how language and behavior can cause great schisms between groups of people. Divisions that separate us by gender, race, age, socioeconomic class – there seems to be no end to the ways that we find ourselves divided – have become visible. Sometimes these divides are created with intent, sometimes unconsciously.

There are, however, bright spots and groups of people working towards unity. We will only get there by refusing to create the ideology of otherness. In order to dissolve the constructs of otherness, we must understand it. defines it for us:

The idea of ‘otherness’ is central to sociological analyses of how majority and minority identities are constructed. This is because the representation of different groups within any given society is controlled by groups that have greater political power. In order to understand the notion of The Other, sociologists first seek to put a critical spotlight on the ways in which social identities are constructed. Identities are often thought as being natural or innate – something that we are born with – but sociologists highlight that this taken-for-granted view is not true.

Rather than talking about the individual characteristics or personalities of different individuals, which is generally the focus for psychology, sociologists focus on social identities. Social identities reflect the way individuals and groups internalise established social categories within their societies, such as their cultural (or ethnic) identities, gender identities, class identities, and so on. These social categories shape our ideas about who we think we are, how we want to be seen by others, and the groups to which we belong.

Breaking Down Otherness At Work

The key to breaking apart the state of otherness is to know each other in a human way. In the business world many different groups are working towards making our workplaces more diverse, which can help heal our whole society. Think about it – if you work 40 hours a week you will more than likely get to know your coworkers on a human level. If the key to breaking down your own biases is getting to see people that you may unconsciously see as “other” as individual human beings. Working alongside someone who is different than you, whether that be by race, gender, sexual orientation, speech-language disorder, or any other disability or disorder, will eventually let you see them as simply human (if you want to).

Building a diverse workforce is easier said than done, even though studies have shown that diverse workplaces are more engaged, more productive, and more profitable. In many studies Gallup found that:

Engagement and inclusiveness are closely related. Gallup has also found that engaged employees are more likely to say their company values diverse ideas. Furthermore, engagement is also linked to how an employee feels his or her employer would respond to discrimination concerns.

For the concept of Otherness to be broken down, the leaders of your company must want to eliminate workplace discrimination if it is going to happen. From the top down, all parties must have skin in the game.

A Story of Otherness

Recently one of the members of our community was let go by his employer in an unsettling way. After a mistake on a project, he was told he would be suspended for a few days, but that he must turn in his credentials and laptop for that one day. It was a Friday. On Monday he was told over the phone that he was not to return to work, told he would be offered severance, and fired.

This individual has a speech-language disorder, but that is not the unsettling part. What led up to the firing is. Only after his firing did we learn that he had little to no communication with his manager. She regularly avoided or canceled their scheduled one on one meetings. He worked steadily, and effectively, but almost always alone due to the nature of his job.

After his dismissal, he received a letter of sorrow and thanks from a different supervisor saying how sad he was that our member had quit his job, and that certain projects would never have been successful without him.

What you may see here is what may be a wrongful termination. But look deeper and you will also see the creation of a state of Otherness for our member. He was not engaged by his supervisor, he was left off and alone to work, separate from his co workers.

This type of scenario is repeated again and again throughout companies, even companies that set up diversity initiatives to hire for that very reason. The “Other” employee comes into the company, but is never made to truly feel like part of the culture. Their Otherness is ever visible, and very often, so uncomfortable they choose to leave. Or they are dismissed like our member was.

Guarding Against Otherness

True diversity will not be built without tremendous effort from leaders within business. And it won’t work if leaders attempt to build it in silos. Diversity must include both a culture change and the awareness that all “categories” of people whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, anyone with a disability or communication challenge, cannot be set apart and meant to feel like they do not belong to the mainstream. The company that lost our member lost a very bright, hard-working young employee. Many businesses, by pushing people who are in any way different than the majority group into an “Other” state, stand to lose the same kind of outstanding employees, the ones who will help build a diverse and engaged workplace.

A version of this post was first published on Huffington Post.

Photo Credit: Piyushgiri Revagar Flickr via Compfight cc

Let’s Be Honest About Diversity: Age Matters Too

The conversation about diversity is finally opening up. We have a long way to go, but gender and ethnic equality are firmly on the agenda. From the law to the notoriously homogeneous tech industry, leaders are taking notice and working to create change. But there’s a gaping oversight in the conversation that’s too often ignored: In the push to improve diversity, we have to recognize that age matters, too.

Nearly ten years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg—then 23 years old—told a startup event: “Young people are just smarter… Young people lead simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have a family. Simplicity in life slows you to focus on what’s important.” Now a new father and in his 30s, at the helm of one of the world’s most valuable brands, one wonders whether he’s changed his mind.

One thing is clear, however: The opinion of the tech industry as a whole hasn’t shifted at all.

Tech’s Failure to Connect the Dots

When Twitter’s engineering manager, Leslie Miley, left Twitter last year, he refused a severance package so he could speak openly about his exit. In a post called “Why Diversity is Difficult,” he talked about Twitter’s efforts to be at its diverse best—only to turn around and oversimplify the situation or forget about it altogether in the course of getting things done.

“In attempting to achieve the appropriate level of blackness that makes me palatable to tech, had I unwittingly erased the importance of maintaining my blackness in a sea of white faces?” Miley asked.

Questioning that tightrope echoes the conflict that faces many tech workers as they “age out” of their twenties and approach middle age. For the first time, there are five generations in the workforce: Traditionalists (also called the Silent Generation, born before 1946), Baby Boomers, Gen-X’ers, Millennials, and the youngest, Generation Z. Such a range has the potential for significant diversity of thought and action. Instead, age discrimination in tech has rendered the three older generations barely visible—even Millennials are starting to feel the pressure.

Diverse Workplaces have Tangible Benefits

The median age in the workforce is 42 years old; the average age in the tech industry, according to a survey by Payscale, ranged from 28 to 31 at major tech companies, even younger at a few outliers.

It’s so conspicuous that a quarter-life-crisis drives many in their twenties to seek out Botox and other treatments to keep their youthful glow. “Years of experience, plenty of talent, completely obsolete,” summed up Noam Scheiber in an article for the New Republic.

Consider this: In 2014, there were more than 20,000 age-related discrimination charges filed against employers. One computer scientist, who brought a claim against Google when he was 54, had been told his ideas were “too old to matter.”

However, it has been proven that a broader scope of experience enables groups of coworkers to perform more effectively with greater collective knowledge. Study after study has shown that with diversity comes strength—whether we’re talking about age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or even alma mater.

Over-reliance on any particular quality or measure risks groupthink, and it ignores the facts: Innovation knows no age. According to a report by the Kauffmann Foundation, less than a quarter of startups are founded by people under the age of 24; they’re just as likely, if not more so, to be launched by people aged 55 to 64.

Older workers have not only have the skills and experience but also a deep understanding of their area of expertise. This expertise complements the academic knowledge of more recent graduates. We just need to do a better job of encouraging and acknowledging both.

Embrace a Broader View of Diversity

As HR pros well know, diversity does have its challenges. In a study of workplace data, MIT economist Sara Ellison found that similar groups of people often enjoy stronger camaraderie; their ability to relate to each other can make it easier to establish “cooperation, trust, and enjoyment of the workplace.”

However, Ellison also observed that being in sync didn’t help groups perform better. “A baseball team entirely composed of catchers could have high esprit de corps…but it would not perform very well on the field,” she said.

Committing to a diverse workplace extends beyond race and gender; tech companies are missing out on innovations that might arise from including older points of view in their talent pools. While many companies embrace the idea of workplace diversity, too few recognize that commitment includes fighting ageism in tech, too.

A version of this post was first published on Huffington Post on 2/29/16

Photo Credit: GESTION DE ENFERMERIA via Compfight cc

The Harsh Reality of Diversity in Today’s Workplace

Would it surprise you to learn that highly educated black professionals face a widening gap with whites as they progress through their career? Diversity in the 21st century workplace is still a challenge that impacts not only our ideas of fairness and opportunity, but the bottom line as well.

NPR recently highlighted a study by social scientists that outlined the depth of the challenges non-white professionals face when applying for jobs. One of the most surprising discoveries is the widening gap minorities experience as they progress through their career.

Led by John Nunley, an economist at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, researchers sent out 9,000 resumes with both traditional African American-sounding names, and traditional white-sounding names. Applicants with African American-sounding names received a 14 percent lower call-back rate.

If fewer minorities are being interviewed, fewer minorities are being hired. How does that look in the workplace?

The Real Numbers on Racial Diversity at Work

According to analysis by the Pew Research Center, the Millennial generation is far more diverse than the Silent generation was 50 years ago. Millennials are a more ethnically diverse group, and interracial marriage is happening in the U.S. at a previously unseen rate.

How is this diversity reflected in the workplace?

Based on a 2014 Corporate Diversity Study by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, it isn’t–for minorities or for women.

When looking at the boards of directors of 69 Fortune 100 companies, here are some study findings:

  • Women represent 22.9 percent of directors, even though more than half of the American population is female.
  • Non-white people–Latino, African American, Asian, or Native American–represent 18.3 percent of directors.
  • Four of the companies don’t have a single racial or ethnic minority on their board.
  • Women of color represent just 4.2 percent of directors; 41 companies do not have a single woman of color on their board of directors.

When we look at executive teams the numbers aren’t much better, and have actually decreased since 2011. Yes, you heard me correctly–representation has decreased.

As Senator Menendez points out, the purchasing power of Latino and black consumers each exceed an estimated $1 trillion. That should be a real wake-up call to corporate America: If a large segment of your customer base isn’t represented among your decision makers, how effectively can your company do business with them?

Why Corporate America Needs Diversity

Women and minorities are significantly underrepresented in corporate leadership. Apart from the belief that every race and gender deserves opportunity, the facts are that diversity impacts the bottom line.

In his report, Senator Menendez reported, “Studies examining the relationship between racial or ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and financial performance have revealed that companies with more diverse teams outperform their less-diverse counterparts.”

He cites a 2014 McKinsey report that researched hundreds of companies globally: “Companies in the top quartile of racial or ethnic diversity were 30% more likely to have financial returns above the national industry median.”

Gallup has also done research that shows gender-diverse business units in retail have 14 percent higher comparable revenues; in the hospitality industry, that rises to 19 percent higher average quarterly net profit.

We’ve all heard the facts about employee engagement leading to much higher productivity and, therefore, profitability. These studies also show that diversity leads to higher engagement among employees.

How Do Companies Become More Diverse?

Having a diversity plan or chief diversity officer isn’t enough; representation needs to be reflected at the board level as well. There need to be set targets for diversity–and yes, that means setting measurable, numerical goals at an executive level.

We talk about who really drives organizational change often on #Tchat; it is never a sole CEO or C-level executive, but this change needs to come from the top if it’s going to create profound and real change.

How does upper management influence diversity throughout the organization?

  1. Ensure that the board is representative, and that this isn’t a “do as a say, not as I do” situation.
  2. Tie performance reviews to diversity goals, and make sure there are financial implications to reaching goals.

Diversity won’t happen by chance; your recruitment department needs to make sure that minority and female candidates interview for open positions. To truly transform your organization, it needs to be inclusive and represent everyone.

Creating a diverse workforce at the lower rungs of your organization isn’t enough, but it’s another place to make a difference. Beyond recruitment, plant the seeds of diversity early and develop future leaders. A strong, structured mentorship plan is essential to keep younger talent on track; professional development is a priority for Millennials in particular.

Most importantly, openly acknowledge the reality that minorities and women face in the workplace. A recent article by Gillian B. White of The Atlantic outlined the frank reality of workplace discrimination.

Through education, make sure your team understands how very important diversity is to the overall health of the organization.

This article was originally seen on Huffington Post.

Image: BigStock.