Why Diversity is Good for Business

There's lots of talk about innovation being the key to growing American businesses, but exactly how companies get innovative remains less clearly defined. One way to drive innovation, according to a new Forbes study, is to hire a more diverse work force.

Though the survey was conducted among larger companies, it holds implications for businesses of all sizes.

According to the survey, 85 percent of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to gaining the perspectives and ideas that foster innovation . And, more than three- quarters said their companies will increasingly leverage diversity for their business goals, which include innovation.

“Companies have realized that diversity and inclusion are no longer separate from other parts of the business,” said Stuart Feil, editorial director of Forbes Insights. “Organizations in the survey understand that different experiences and different perspectives build the foundation necessary to compete on a global scale.”

Some other advantages to having a diverse work force include:

  • A diverse and inclusive work force is crucial for companies that want to attract and retain top talent . Most companies surveyed (65 percent) have programs in place to recruit diverse employees, but fewer follow that up with diversity-focused development programs (53 percent) and diversity-focused retention programs (44 percet).
  • Just about every company surveyed had some kind of diversity and inclusion program , and many go beyond gender and race. Gender diversity programs are the most common (81 percent), followed by programs focused on ethnicity (77 percent), age (72 percent) and race (70 percent).
  • There are still some impediments to companies’ diversity efforts. Respondents felt they’ve made progress in gender diversity, but they feel they’ve fallen short in areas such as disability and age.

Forbes surveyed 321 executives at large global enterprises ($500 million-plus in annual revenues). All respondents had direct responsibility or oversight for their companies’ diversity and inclusion programs. The study was sponsored by AT&T, L’Oréal USA, and Mattel.