By Dennis Nally, PwC
The evidence speaks for itself – and so does the everyday experience of businesses across the world. Diversity and inclusion lead to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent, and better business performance.
But how and why? To me, there are five reasons why diversity and inclusion are an absolute imperative for any business.
1. Diversity and inclusion are quite simply the right thing to do
It’s about creating equal opportunities for everyone – and we can all see signs of progress. But the statistics make it equally clear that there’s still a long way to go.
Take gender equality. Women account for 60% of college graduates but only 3% of leaders worldwide. Women and girls also represent two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population. That’s why PwC is supporting HeForShe – a movement led by UN Women, which aims to mobilise 1 billion men and boys in support of gender equality.
2. It’s good for business
Companies that embrace diversity gain higher market share and a competitive edge in accessing new markets – a ‘diversity dividend’ first quantified in a recent study by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). Business leaders increasingly recognise this. In our most recent 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 85% of the CEOs we surveyed whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy said it’s improved their bottom line.
3. If organisations don’t manage diversity properly, they’ll get left behind
Today, workplace equality is front-of-mind for businesses, governments, regulators, society, and – most important of all – the vital talent that will drive their future success. So companies that don’t focus on this aren’t just at risk of being out of date, they already are.
In our most recent Global CEO Survey, 77% of CEO said they already have a diversity and inclusion strategy or plan to adopt one in the next 12 months. And the talent they want to recruit supports this view: other PwC research shows that 86% of female and 74% of male millennials consider employers’ policies on diversity, equality and inclusion when deciding which company to work for.
4. Diversity plugs the talent gap for businesses - and is also good for society
Today, one of the biggest concerns for CEOs worldwide is not having the right people to
run and grow their businesses. So they’re starting to look to diversity as a way to address this issue.
Good workplace diversity doesn’t just benefit the businesses themselves, but also the economies they operate in – a fact underlined by research from the non-profit organisation Catalyst. This shows that increasing the level of female employment could help raise GDP by 5% in the US, 11% in Italy, and 27% in India. And that’s before you start to quantify the positive social impacts that would also arise.
5. Diversity and inclusion bring us all opportunities to learn from others and grow
By working with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences and working styles, we learn and get another view. Diverse views make for better decisions, and thus drive a high-performance culture.
In my mind, the benefits of diversity are clear and unarguable. But this does not mean that embracing diversity is always easy. That’s why we all need to show leadership and hold ourselves to account.
Which brings me to PwC’s second Global Diversity Week, which we’re celebrating from 15 to 19 June. Our goal is simple: to ensure that every person at PwC – no matter where they sit – understands three things. First, our business case for diversity. Second, that it’s a priority for global and local leadership. And third, what he or she can personally do to become even more inclusive.
Diversity is a journey – and we don’t kid ourselves that we’re near our destination yet. But we’ll keep raising the pace, energised by the fact that this is a business-critical journey that is also the right thing to do for our business, our people and our communities.
Dennis Nally leads the global network of PwC firms. He has extensive experience serving large multinational clients in a variety of industries, principally focusing on technology and life sciences. Dennis is also a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on issues affecting the professional services profession and the global capital markets. Read Dennis Nally's full biography.