How Diversity is Changing Business for the Better
Business Solutions Diversity is more than just a buzzword today. Three top business leaders explain why companies should embrace a 21st century workforce—and the best ways to do it.
Diversity isn’t just good for women and minorities; it’s good for business. “There is an incredibly strong case for building a team of professionals from varying backgrounds,” says Cindy Bates, the vice president of U.S. Small and Medium Sized Businesses at Microsoft. “Some of the most innovative thinking comes from businesses that draw from a wide range of voices, because these different perspectives challenge the status quo.”
Carol Roth, a CNBC on-air contributor and bestselling author of The Entrepreneur Equation, agrees. “Diversity is important not for the sake of diversity, but for the results that it yields,” she says. “This has been seen in increased revenue, new business alliances and an increased stock price.”
“'Diversity is not an annual event,' says Burston. 'It is an everyday language and attitude.'”
The key is to pursue diversity with the same focus as any other business goal. “A diversity program is only as good as the effort put forth to ensure its success,” says Bates. “Diversity has to be a mindset with action behind it if you aspire to attract and retain diverse talent.” This means making an authentic commitment to finding the most capable candidates from a variety of backgrounds, then making the most of their talents once they’re hired.
“Mentoring is essential,” says Jo Burston, founder of Inspiring Rare Birds, an organization that empowers women entrepreneurs. “The mentor should also be prepared to learn. I learn every day from the younger, less experienced in our office.” As women and minorities rise to positions of power, they provide momentum for others. “One way to attract diverse talent is by showcasing the talent you already have,” says Bates. “If you have a female executive, apply for speaking opportunities and create content around her personal experience.”
There are also resources for corporations recruiting top talent, such as WomenCorporateDirectors and the International Women’s Forum. “And of course, there’s good old-fashioned asking around,” says Roth. “I’d bet that every person you come in contact with knows several great people from a variety of backgrounds that can be added at every level of an organization.”
The ultimate goal is not just having a more diverse workforce, but transforming corporate culture. “Diversity is not an annual event,” says Burston. “It is an everyday language and attitude.” When this happens, everyone benefits, contends Bates.
“The more we challenge each other with different ways to solve problems, the better we all become and the more successful our businesses will be in return. We will all win.”