How Diversity Is Becoming A Business Need

by Preeti S    Feb 05, 2015


In the US, technology companies with more than 1,000 employees are mandated to release diversity data. This year’s list is  topped by Apple and eBay with 28% while Microsoft and Intel are at the bottom with 16%.  

There are positive indications of the companies stepping up efforts towards having diverse workforce. Google, which reported 21% women workforce, has announced awarding $775,000 to CODE2040, a non-profit company dedicated to promoting diversity in the tech sector. That apart, some companies already have or are planning to appoint diversity directors.

Certainly, the trend signifies diversity is no longer just a project, but a business imperative and competitive advantage. According to a McKinsey research, the companies with more diverse workforce perform better financially. It states that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 30 percent more likely to have financial returns and those in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above others.

Going by the last quarter results, it seems diversity can play a significant role in the company’s growth. eBay increased its revenues by 9% to $4.9 billion and Apple posted earnings of $8.5 billion and a revenue of $42.1 billion, beating market expectations.

Diverse thoughts

The need of the hour is the diversity in thinking. Companies need to derive value from different opinions of people on company issues and varied solutions. 

McKinsey says it is not just about simply meeting minimum regulatory requirements, but what is essential is building an inclusive workplace that encourages staff to perform their best.

“A key to our success is hiring and retaining a staff that is as diverse as our audiences. Diversity is the essence of our ability to create the richest range of products and services that engage and inspire the broadest audiences around the world,” Sejal Shah Gulati, Managing Director and President, Time Inc. India. “We need people who bring in ideas,” she adds.

There is a larger impact on companies. NASSCOM works towards promoting diversity and inclusion in companies and honours them in their endeavour to encourage best practice.

“Diversity as we now know is not just about gender and our next imperative is to unravel the various elements that impact the culture of organizations. Knowledge of generational diversity from a cultural point of view is also very important with a deeper understanding of what each generation values at both the individual and organizational scale,” says R Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM.

How companies can help

In order to leverage varied competencies, the companies can adopt new policies to retain and train women staff.

According to data compiled by ETshow, close to half of fresh recruiters every year is women, but only around 35% remain on board five years down the line and just about 10-15% reaches the senior levels.

Apart from adopting flexible hours and offering work-from-home facilities and year-long leaves, it is essential to foster work environment that is diverse and inclusive.  They need to work towards instilling the capabilities that women need to thrive in an organization like confidence to raise their concerns and resilience.

However, the responsibility of changing gender diversity rests solely  with CEOs.

One point of debate has been that there are not many women in leadership roles. Companies like Deloitte encourage women to grow up the hierarchy with its leadership programme for mid-level woman.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated in 2013: “Women are getting more and more of the graduate degrees, more and more of the undergraduate degrees, and it’s translating into more women in entry-level jobs, even more women in lower-level management. But there’s absolutely been no progress at the top.”

There are some tips offered by Sejal, who feels companies must hire women at the top.”There is no dearth of talent. There are a lot of smart women out there,” she says.

But she also adds that women need to make some efforts. “They need to be aspirational and need a level of dedication and singlemindedness to be there.”