Standing up for global causes like equality is not only the right thing to do—it’s also good for the bottom line. Here’s how companies can make diversity part of their business plan and why parity will benefit us all.
Why Gender Diversity is Good for Business and the World
Gender diversity is a key driver of financial performance — not just in companies, but around the world. In fact, we could add $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025 if we close the gender gap, according to a report from McKinsey & Company
This figure is just one of many that give us a clearer sense of how much power we have as women to make an impact. Yet, even with the abundance of research on why advancing equality improves the world, women remain underrepresented at every level of the global workforce.
In the FQ Lounge @ SAP SAPPHIRE NOW, business leaders gathered to share insights on why diversity is a competitive advantage and how we can use it to take more decisive action.
Teams Need to Believe in the Power of Diversity
According to Harvard Business Review, research indicates that gender diversity leads to stronger business outcomes only when there is a widespread cultural belief that gender diversity is important. In other words, corporate cultures that value gender diversity capture the benefits from it. “We [at Google] take advantage of opportunities to collaborate and promote the notion of challenging one another’s perspectives and ideas. We pull people who have different opinions together in the interest of arriving at the best possible outcome so that we can solve a particular problem,” says Alison Hettrick, SAP Solution Consulting, Google Cloud Go-To-Market.
Inclusive Work Environments Attract Talent
Increasing the number of women in a company’s workforce isn’t just a one-off HR initiative; it’s one of the main determinants of business growth. Companies with inclusive cultures make smarter decisions that lead to better financial returns, reports McKinsey. “Organizations that have a high percentage of women in executive leadership positions outperform those that don’t,” adds Jacqueline Usher, Canada SAP SuccessFactors Lead, Deloitte. “It’s just good business. Why wouldn’t you diversify? It’s more than just a matter of showing you’re a diverse organization, it’s actually imperative for the bottom line.”
Psychological Safety is Key
If an organization does not value the unique viewpoints that a diverse workforce provides, women will not feel comfortable voicing their perspectives to the group. In order to ensure that companies capture the benefits of diversity, everyone needs to feel included. When companies encourage the open exchange of new ideas, studies find that employees’ ability to innovate rises by 83%, according to Deloitte. “When you’re designing a product,” Usher says, “if you don’t have diversity on your team and a high female quotient, then how do you know whether your product will appeal to women?”
Data Creates More Accountability for Change
Transformation is only possible when companies set well-defined diversity goals and use metrics to monitor progress. “I believe in the power of data,” says Tiffen Dano Kwan, CMO, SAP Ariba, “When we show data and the true impact of diversity, this is where we can start changing the conversation. It’s not just an emotionally-driven conversation, it’s a data-driven one with clear facts that tell us about reality.”
Accept that Achieving Gender Equality Won’t Be Easy
Activating change is a challenge for everyone, whether you’re a manager, employee or job seeker. But it’s important to remember that the ultimate outcome of equality is well worth it. “It takes 20 seconds of courage to go for it and have faith in yourself. You can’t be perfect. Nobody is. Just try. At least you’re going to gain that experience by doing the thing. Often, it’s a bigger risk to not do something,” says Dano Kwan.
Own Your Strengths & Embrace Your Weaknesses
By respecting the unique qualities that we each bring to the table, we can enable one another to play to our individual strengths. “Don’t worry about the areas of development that we all need to work on,” says Usher. “Instead, focus on what you’re really good at and find your superpower, because that will take you to the highest level.”
We all must do our part to spark meaningful progress in gender equality. It’s also time for companies to make equality and inclusion a business priority. Only then can we begin to truly deliver impact through diversity.
For more on the value of diversity and inclusion, check out: