Our workplaces are made up of diverse groups of people from all sorts of backgrounds, work styles, geographies, cultures, economic statuses, ethnicities, races, disabilities, genders, and sexualities.
Most of us have seen snippets of research proving that when teams are made up of diverse identities and backgrounds, they innovate and perform better. And these reports and discussions about why diversity at work matters aren’t going anywhere—women represent the majority of America’s workforce today, and statistics project that people of color will represent the majority of the working class within the next 10 years. So, yeah, the days of majority white male workplaces are coming to a close.
Plus, our data shows that 53 percent of women say they’re unlikely or very unlikely to stay with a company that doesn’t have visible or measurable diversity, equity, and inclusion engagement. So, whether you’re a leader seeking statistics to make your case for stronger diversity initiatives or an employee curious about how diversity has the potential to impact your team, take a look at these 28 reasons why diversity at work matters.
Read more: 18 Reasons Gender Diversity at Work Is More Important Than Ever
28 reasons why diversity at work matters
1. Employees from diverse backgrounds add insight value
Leaders who give voices of diverse backgrounds and experiences equal airtime are almost twice as likely to uncover value-driving business insights.
2. Diversity is a high priority for women job seekers
A recent survey found that 61 percent of women look at the gender diversity of the employer’s leadership team when deciding where to work, 67 percent look at whether it has positive role models similar to them, and 56 percent look at whether the organization publicly shares its progress on diversity.
3. Creativity at work requires diversity
Research has proven time and time again that diverse teams develop more innovative ideas because when a group of people come from various backgrounds—ethnically, educationally, socially—they’re going to brainstorm more out-of-the-box ideas.
4. Racially diverse teams bring in the big bucks
Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity bring in almost 15 times the sales revenue of companies with the lowest levels of diversity. Additionally, diverse management has been shown to increase revenue by 19 percent.
5. Gender-equal teams also bring in the big bucks
Companies employing an equal number of men and women manage to produce up to 41 percent higher revenue. When workplaces are equal, they perform better and their revenue reaps the benefits of having more than one perspective on business matters.
6. Diversity at work improves customers’ experiences
For the customer-centric companies: Research shows that teams with one or more members who represent the gender, ethnicity, generation, or sexual orientation of a customer target market are about 158 percent more likely to innovate effectively for that end user. In other words, a team with Black women on it will be better able to create a product for a Black woman than a room full of white men could.
7. More women in leadership = higher profit
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability, and both company profits and share performance can be almost 50 percent higher when women are well represented in senior leadership positions.
8. Gender diversity fosters emotional curiosity
McKinsey & Company reports that women leaders are more likely than male leaders to encourage their peers to join in on racial equality efforts and actively listen to personal stories from women of color about bias and mistreatment.
9. Problems are solved quicker within diverse teams
Diverse teams solve problems faster than homogenous teams. Alison Reynolds and David Lewis write for the Harvard Business Review, “Tackling new challenges requires a balance between applying what we know and discovering what we don’t know that might be useful. It also requires individual application of specialized expertise and the ability to step back and look at the bigger picture.” Problem-solving requires different approaches and points of view.
10. Diverse teams enjoy better benefits
McKinsey & Company’s 2020 Women in the Workplace study with LeanIn.org shows that women leaders are more likely to adopt employee-friendly policies and programs and make racial and gender diversity a top priority. Hello, inclusive workplace practices.
11. Diverse teams take action on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts
More than 50 percent of senior-level women say they consistently take a public stand for gender and racial equity at work compared to their men counterparts.
Read more: 5 Culture-Building Exercises For Cross-Cultural Teams
12. Diverse teams are incredibly efficient
Want fewer meetings on your calendar? Prioritize diversity. A white paper from online decision-making platform Cloverpop found that diverse, inclusive teams make better business decisions almost 87 percent of the time, and they make those decisions twice as fast, within half as many meetings.
13. Plus, decisions from diverse teams deliver results
The Cloverpop white paper also found that the decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60 percent better results. Research found that this stems from increased cognitive diversity, where people with different thought patterns, ideas, problem-solving methods, and mental perspectives are involved in the decision-making process.
14. When diverse talent isn’t retained, jobs are lost
In 2020, women lost more than 64 million jobs globally and the pandemic cost women around the world at least $800 billion in lost income, negatively affecting the overall economy.
15. Women leaders know how to handle a crisis situation
Who runs the world? Girls. Research proves women leaders perform better in situations that require crisis leadership.
16. Diversity is a make or break factor for job seekers
As you read in the intro, employees prefer to work in environments that prioritize diversity. Upwards of 67 percent of job seekers look at workforce diversity levels when evaluating a company or job offer, so when companies fail to prioritize diversity, they’re inadvertently setting themselves up to be overlooked by at least two-thirds of top talent.
17. Diversity attracts the future of the workforce: new graduates
Skip the free avocado toast and ping-pong tables if you’re hoping to attract younger talent. According to a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, 79 percent of new graduates rate diversity at work as a “very important” factor when applying for jobs.
Read more: How to Get a Job After College: 21 Tips You Absolutely Must Try
18. Hiring underrepresented groups like moms will boost your organization’s productivity
We already know moms are undercover superheroes. A recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that over the course of a 30-year career, working mothers outperformed women without children at almost every stage of their careers, and mothers with at least two kids were the most productive of all.
Read more: 20 Working Moms About the Benefits & Company Cultures That Make Their Careers Possible
19. Diversity expands your market reach
Diversity drives market growth—diverse companies are 70 percent more likely to capture new markets compared to companies with less diversity.
20. Women leaders inspire other women to achieve their goals
Our data shows that 84 percent of women say it’s important or very important to see women filling leadership roles where they work, 78 percent of women say it’s important or very important to see women performing the same work as them, and 54 percent of women say they have a woman role model at work.
21. Investors want to invest in diverse companies
Harvard Business Review says that investors value when firms use commonly accepted “best practices,” like prioritizing diversity in hiring, and they penalize those that break or don’t follow these norms. Other research has shown that stock prices surge after firms win an award related to diversity initiatives, obviously an attractive sign for investors.
22. Diversity yields higher returns on talent
Inclusive companies get 2.3 times more cash flow per employee and are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
23. Diverse teams are better able to understand clients
Not only do diverse teams innovate for their end user better, they’re also able to understand and empathize with clients better. A team with a member who shares a client’s ethnicity is 152 percent more likely than another team to understand that client.
24. Gender diverse companies crush their competition
That’s right, there’s a statistically significant relationship between a more diverse leadership team and a better financial performance. Companies in the top quartile of gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to beat industry median financial returns.
25. More diversity at work would add trillions the economy
If every country matched the progress toward gender parity of its fastest-growing neighbor, the global GDP could potentially increase by 26 percent, or $28 trillion, by 2025.
26. Inclusivity motivates millennial workers
Millennials are 83 percent more likely to be engaged at work at inclusive companies that prioritize and champion DEI programs.
27. A lack of diversity leads to discrimination and turnover
Black women, indigenous women, other women of color, disabled women, trans women, queer women, and other employees with marginalized identities are no strangers to experiencing the alienation of being “the only” in their workplace.
And according to survey research, almost half of all Black and Hispanic employees in the United States have quit a job after witnessing or experiencing discrimination at work. More diverse workplaces lead to more support, solidarity, and leadership opportunities.
Read more: Are You 'The Only' at Work? Here's How to Broaden Your Network
28. Public support of diversity at work attracts job seekers
Employers that took a stand and publicly posted more about diversity on LinkedIn in 2020 received 26 percent more applications from women, compared to companies that posted less.