The body of research supporting the business case for diversity and inclusion is strong — and growing. We will update this page as we find new research. And if you know of a study or report we should include here, please share it with us.Why diversity matters (2015, McKinsey) New research makes it increasingly clear that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially. From diversity to inclusion (2014, Deloitte University Press) Move from compliance to diversity as a business strategy Diverse teams perform better (2013, Ernst & Young) Teamwork is good – and diverse, cross-disciplinary, multinational teamwork is better. Diversity as an engine of innovation (2011, Deloitte University Press) Retail and consumer goods companies find competitive advantage in diversity Better Decisions Through Diversity (2010, Kellogg School of Management) Heterogeneity can boost group performance In Professor’s Model, Diversity = Productivity (2008, New York Times) “What the model showed was that diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving problems.”
by Eric Ratinoff
We have been talking for a very long time about how we really, really need to talk about race. How it’s time for a national dialogue about race. How we in the business community need to have that difficult conversation about race.
All this talking about talking.
Why do we keep talking about having to talk about it?
We talk about talking about race as though if we could just get the right people to say the right things at the right time in the right order, we could solve this tricky puzzle that’s been vexing us all these years.
But the reason we keep talking about talking about race, rather than actually talking about race, is because the actual conversation about race is dangerous. We risk being wrong. The conversation about race is painful. We risk being vulnerable. The conversation about race is scary. We risk being honest.
Saying we should talk about race, though? That’s safe. Who can argue with it?
In his piece, “I, Racist,” John Metta says another issue keeps us from having the conversation — we’re not actually having the same conversation:
White people and Black people are not having a discussion about race. Black people, thinking as a group, are talking about living in a racist system. White people, thinking as individuals, refuse to talk about “I, racist” and instead protect their own individual and personal goodness. In doing so, they reject the existence of racism.
Charles Blow of the New York Times expands on this distinction between individual racism and institutional racism. Institutional racism, he says, is not limited to racist laws, or intentional racist acts:
All of these definitions of institutional racism are incredibly narrow, and therefore take an incredibly myopic view of what institutional racism looks like. These definitions require a sort of direct discrimination, an articulation either in law or custom, to be deemed real.
But institutional racism will not be limited in that way …. institutional racism doesn’t require the enlisting of individual racists. The machine does the discriminating.
How can we merge these conversations, when one group that wants to engage in a dialogue urgently wants to talk about racism at a systemic level, built up over centuries, and another wants to defend its individual actions, performed over a single lifetime — and the institutions with which it identifies?
For starters, those who enjoy White privilege can do less talking (and less talking about talking), and more listening. And more reading.
The only way we can have a productive conversation about race is if we’re having the same conversation. And the only way we can have the same conversation is if those who are worried about not appearing racist understand what systemic, institutional racism looks like — and in so doing understand how they’re not being accused of it, but rather being enlisted in dismantling it.
And if you’re looking for a good starting point for understanding what it feels like to be Black in America, set aside some time to sit with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Letter to My Son,” a powerful, personal essay (adapted from his forthcoming book, “Between the World and Me“) that offers a perspective on race that you will find either hauntingly familiar, because too many of the stories ring true to your experience, or sobering, because they don’t.
This originally appeared in The Mouse and the Elephant Weekly.
by Eric Ratinoff
You don’t have to work in diversity and inclusion to be moved by the recent events in Baltimore. You don’t have to work in diversity and inclusion to read the headlines and see the pictures and watch the videos and feel hurt, anger, frustration, despair, or sadness, sometimes all at once.
Even for those of us who do work in diversity and inclusion, it’s easy to feel helpless. Maybe you feel helpless because you’re not in Baltimore. Maybe you feel helpless because you can’t influence how police treat Black men. Maybe you feel helpless because, well, what can one person do to address generations of injustice?
But the death of Freddie Gray, and the uprisings in response to it, are symptoms of a larger systemic inequality that affects everything from policing to housing, from banking to hiring.
Because this incident, like too many similar incidents in the last year, raises questions about police treatment of Black men, it’s easy to think about it solely as a racial issue. The issues raised are issues of social justice, of equity, and of fairness, both under the law and in our daily interactions with our fellow citizens. As such, they touch, and are touched by, every aspect of our society.
In other words, these issues of equity and fairness are no more limited to racial inequality in Baltimore than they are to gender inequality in Silicon Valley. To care about one and not the other is to miss a critical connection. That connection, that common thread, is unequal treatment. Or to use a more blunt word—a word that makes people even more uncomfortable—it is oppression.
Placing these events within the framework of oppression or inequality has a drawback: it can make the issues seem overwhelming.
But we are not powerless. We can do something about them.
Whether we live in Baltimore or not, whether we work with the police or not, whether we are legislators or not, whether we work in diversity and inclusion or not, we can do something. Within our own sphere of influence, no matter where that influence exists, no matter how broadly it extends—whether it is so small that we feel we can only influence our own heart and mind, or whether it is broad enough that we can influence our entire organization—we can do something.
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable protesting. Maybe you aren’t in a position to change policy. Maybe you aren’t even comfortable posting something on Facebook.
But we can read, listen, and empathize. We can consider carefully our words and deeds. We can speak up when we see ignorance uttered right beside us. And we can understand that the workplace is a reflection of the greater society, and that what we say and do at work impacts that greater society. We can work for a more fair, a more just, a more equitable workplace, wherever we work.
We cannot leave the fight for equality to those protesting in the streets of Baltimore, or Ferguson, or any other American city where people are standing up. The fight belongs to all of us.
The name of our company, The Mouse and the Elephant, comes from a parable. The long version is on our website (and the inspiration, and longer version, are in The Loudest Duck by Laura Liswood), but the short version is this: in every sphere of life, there are mice, and there are elephants. The mice often lack power, and a voice, but they do not lack skill or smarts or passion or value. The elephants usually have the power, and while they do not by definition lack empathy or compassion, they often do not see or realize their power, or the sometimes-destructive ways in which they wield it.
The best, most productive, most effective workplaces, communities, and societies understand that when the mice and the elephants can appreciate each other, when they can see and hear and understand and learn from each other, and when they can work together, everybody benefits.
In Baltimore today, the mice are speaking up, and people across the country are finally paying attention (in truth, the mice have been speaking up for quite a while). But we cannot expect the mice alone to erase generations of injustice. In every civil rights victory in this country, when mice fought for equality, elephants stood beside them in solidarity. Not all elephants, of course. But enough elephants to make the less-enlightened elephants think twice.
The fight the protestors in Baltimore are fighting is not the fight of Black people alone. It is our fight. And the battlefield is bigger than Baltimore. It is our workplace, our community, our schools, our homes. It is any place justice, fairness, and equity are threatened. In other words, it is everywhere.
True confession, before we go any further: writing this is hard. It is uncomfortable. I get paid to teach and train about diversity and inclusion, and I co-author a regular column about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and yet as I read and read and read and read some more, and then sat down and tried to write, I kept thinking, “Who am I, as a White man, to speak up on this? Why would anyone care what I have to say? What if I have nothing of value to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I say the thing wrong?”
But I know that saying nothing is the greater mistake. If we don’t have a conversation, we only have reaction. What we need is a proactive, ongoing, nuanced, deliberate, difficult conversation.
Injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, oppression … these are hard things to talk about. We are afraid that the words we choose won’t be the right ones. Even when we feel solidarity and compassion and concern, we fear the words we might find will fall short of a solution. But no one of us has to find a solution. Rather, each one of us is responsible to be another small voice in the conversation, trying to figure something out. Change doesn’t happen with one march, with one protest, or with one rousing speech, but one conversation at a time.
The protesters in the streets of Baltimore are carrying on a proud tradition that runs back not only through 2014 in Ferguson and 1965 in Selma, but back to the 1940s through Woody Guthrie’s guitar, back to the 1840s through the women’s suffrage movement, all the way back to the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Every one of those protesters believed, fundamentally, that the United States should be a place where everyone had an equal chance.
And that’s why we must all do the work—not just those who are oppressed, not just those who are affected by inequality, not just those who suffer, but all of us. The mice and the elephants together.
This work belongs to all of us.
This post originally appeared in The Mouse and the Elephant Weekly. Click here to subscribe.
When many employees hear their company is engaging in a “diversity initiative,” they prepare themselves—often, not so enthusiastically—for a workshop on cultural awareness or a sensitivity-training session. Indeed, for many years, an emphasis on diversity meant a commitment to celebrating under-represented cultures (i.e. Black History Month), and possibly a heightened awareness among the Human Resources department to consider diversity and inclusiveness when developing hiring and promotion practices and protocols.
But too often, diversity and inclusiveness efforts have been considered something extra, an add-on that companies do out of a sense of corporate social responsibility. As a result, these efforts sometimes strike employees as something they have to do—on top of everything else they already have to do.
And the more diversity initiatives are framed as cultural appreciation efforts, the more they feel like a field trip to the “Museum of Cultural Sensitivity.” Maybe visitors see something there that makes them think differently about some things, and maybe after they leave the museum, they remember something they learned. Maybe they even buy something at the gift shop. But at the end of the day, they go home.
This kind of diversity initiative is seen, by management and employees alike, as something nice, but not something essential to the business. Which means that in tough economic times, like other things that are seen as nice but not essential, diversity initiatives become cost-cutting casualties.
“Unfortunately, diversity efforts by many are still viewed as social programs or initiatives with little return on investment,” said Joe Coe, director of diversity at Boyd Gaming, in an interview with In Business in 2010. “Diversity initiatives have not been immunized from the recession.”
This is the old model of diversity.
In recent years, more and more companies have started to see a business value in paying attention to diversity and inclusiveness issues. As these initiatives are factored into the organization’s overall strategic planning and efforts to shape the organizational culture, companies are beginning to see significant bottom-line impact.
We know we can deliver better outcomes for our millions of customers by leveraging and embracing the unique experiences, talents and thinking that our diverse global team has to offer. A commitment to diversity and inclusion has always been, and will continue to be, a competitive advantage in Dell’s business strategy.
– Michael Dell, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO, Dell
At Merck we recognize that good intentions are insufficient to address the need for fair representation and equal opportunity for everyone, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, military service or age. We must create and sustain innovative workplace solutions that ensure inclusion for all to achieve a fully engaged and customer-focused workforce.
– Deborah Dagit, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Merck & Co.
Hiring and retaining diverse talent, contracting with diverse suppliers and marketing our brands to all potential customers simply makes sound business sense. At Starwood, we leverage diversity and inclusion throughout the organization to ultimately outperform the competition, increase shareholder value and demonstrate our commitment to the economic growth of all communities in which we operate.
– Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide
Diversity makes us a better innovator and facilitates our ability to draw top talent to the organization, making us a better company overall. That’s why diversity is a key business strategy.
– John Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO, Prudential Financial
At Booz Allen, our people are our only asset. We don’t sell a tangible product; we sell ideas and solutions. Our people bring diversity of thought and experience, which drives our innovation. For us, diversity is more than the right thing to do, diversity is a business imperative.
– Betty Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Booz Allen Hamilton
As organizations look to integrate four generations in the workplace, address inequities globally and compete for top talent, it becomes even more critical to continually raise the bar on expectations and performance. Diversity and inclusion is a journey—a journey of continuous learning, experience and growth.
– Dr. Rohini Anand, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexho North America
Navigating an increasingly complex global business environment requires that we fully utilize the rich perspectives and experience of our diverse talent pool. This doesn’t just happen. We have to be highly focused and proactive in fostering an inclusive environment to be able to attract, develop and retain the top professionals.
– Steve Howe, Americas Area Managing Partner, Ernst & Young