Diverse teams drive innovation, financial returns, and agility. Discover how technology leaders can champion diversity and inclusion to gain a competitive edge.

For years, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) was treated as a checkbox by many companies. However, study after study shows diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones by leveraging expanded perspectives and deeper critical thinking.

As technology leaders, CIOs and CTOs have an opportunity to spearhead meaningful change through data insights, recalibrated hiring practices, and inclusive product experiences.

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Some of the many benefits of championing diversity and inclusion include:

1. Increased Innovation

Diverse teams enhance creativity and problem-solving by combining varied backgrounds and viewpoints. People approach challenges in new ways, leading to greater innovation.

85% of businesses agree that diversity is a key driver of innovation.

- Forbes 

2. Improved Financial Performance

Organisations that cultivate diversity and inclusion outperform financially by better leveraging talent. Research shows a correlation between diversity and stronger returns.

Companies in the top quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity were 36% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean.

- McKinsey

3. Enhanced Customer Insight

Diverse teams mirror customer demographics, gaining empathy and insights into their needs and preferences. This creates tighter customer connections.  According to BCG,  67% of diverse companies are better at understanding their customers.

“Diversity maximizes your ability to connect and relate to current employees and consumers.”

Apple CEO, Tim Cook

4. Increased Employee Satisfaction

Inclusive environments make employees feel valued and engaged, driving greater satisfaction. Policies and messaging that demonstrate commitment to diversity are key.

Research by Glassdoor showed that 78% of employees feel included when senior leaders demonstrate support for diversity.

“An inclusive workplace fosters innovation, encourages collaboration, and empowers everyone to do their best work.”

Apple’s Former Vice President of People and Head of Diversity Christie Smith

Why Diversity and Inclusion are Now Business Imperatives

5. Widened Talent Pool

Organisations seen as champions of diversity and inclusion have a competitive edge in attracting top talent. Job seekers actively seek diverse and welcoming workplaces.

“Greater diversity allows you to attract talent with unique skill sets and approaches to problem-solving.”

– Rocío Lorenzo, Head of People Analytics, LinkedIn

6. Enhanced Reputation

Fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce boosts public perception of an organisation's brand and values. Consumers expect companies to walk the talk on social responsibility.

According to Accenture, 66% of consumers consider diversity and inclusion to be important factors in deciding which companies they will buy from.

“Diversity is the foundation for innovating and thriving in a global marketplace.”

John Chambers, Executive Chairman, Cisco

7. Greater Organisational Agility

Heterogeneous teams pivot and adapt quickly, identify risks, make decisions, and capitalise on opportunities with agility.  Research by BCG suggests that 70% of diverse companies are better equipped to change direction and innovate.

“Diversity produces greater adaptability and agility for companies trying to grow in a global marketplace.”

– Rocío Lorenzo, LinkedIn

As diversity and inclusion become business imperatives, technology leaders have an opportunity to drive change. By spearheading diverse hiring, modeling inclusivity, and leveraging diversity's benefits, CIOs and CTOs can gain a competitive advantage.

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Brad Dowden
Post by Brad Dowden
February 19, 2024
Entrepreneur, Business Leader, CIO, and Founder of The CIO Circle