Stephen Covey once said “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”.
Imagine a group of children, from diverse backgrounds and ethnicity, aged between 7 and 12 years of age, playing a game of marbles. The fun, joy, collaboration and enjoyment that this diverse group brings to the table changes the dynamism of this activity.
Imagine another group of children, coming from similar backgrounds, behaving like robots or products out of an assembly line belt, playing the same game of marbles. The monotony and sameness of this group would probably bring boredom to a person looking on.
Over the past few years, Coca Cola Enterprises focused on diversity and laid the foundation for inclusion all over the company. This resulted in the creation of engaging and innovative programs which had the support of senior leadership.
The company recently launched a program that required all its managers to run a diversity and inclusion workshop during all their team meetings. The idea behind this was to nurture a culture of constructive dialogue around diversity and inclusion.
Diversity breeds innovation and innovation breeds business success. Diversity is critical to an organization’s ability to adapt to a fast changing environment. It brings about a fresh and new outlook to perspectives, experiences, culture, gender and age. Companies with a diverse workforce perform better financially. A McKinsey Analysis Report says that 15% are more likely to outperform in a gender-diverse company and 35% are more likely to outperform in an ethnically diverse company. Diversity matters because it makes sense in purely business terms. The financial returns of companies that invest in diversity are higher than their national industrial medians. They also become the competitive differentiators over a period of time. So, it should come as no surprise that diverse companies are achieving higher performances.
Diverse companies are better able to win top talent, orient themselves well with their customers and improve decision making. Other kinds of diversity like age, sexual orientation and experience creates a global mindset and cultural fluency. Women’s representation in the top levels of management has yielded positive results.
Successful companies do not build a business and then look at diversity as something nice to have. They build this into the fabric of their firm even when they are starting out from a garage or a friend’s apartment. Diversity is a way of life, a mentality, a cultural movement and not just a strategy alone. It stems from respecting all kinds of people and enjoying the differences that it brings. This puts personal inhibitions and apprehensions on the back burner and allows growth to happen.
Achieving greater diversity is definitely not easy. A lot of work needs to be done to get the kind of numbers that make it attractive, compelling and ideal. In today’s times, we live in a deeply connected and global world. Companies should take advantage of the opportunities that diverse leadership brings. They should also be able to create the next level of leaders at all levels in the organization by attracting, developing, mentoring, sponsoring and retaining talent. Considering the high levels of returns that diversity brings, it is better to start investing right away.