- Brandon Miller
Updated: May 20, 2022
Warning: this article will make you think about your worldview and address some unconscious thoughts and behaviors.
It’s not just about race.
Be honest with yourself. When I say the word “diversity”, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Most people will say something along the lines of race and color. They would be absolutely correct. In order to have a diverse environment, you need to have people of different races included. But race isn’t the only identifier when talking about diversity.
My favorite question when talking about anything that has to do with diversity is the inevitable “why does everything have to be about race?”. The quick answer? Because ever since I can remember, I’ve been made acutely aware of my race and how different I am in almost every environment I’m in. The much longer, complex answer is what I want to dive into today. When you really look at what diversity truly means, it goes beyond so much more than race. It intertwines so many different personal descriptors. Race is one of the most obvious, but it doesn’t cover the entire spectrum.
Internal diversity examples:
Take a minute. Think about some of the environments that you are in on a consistent basis. We could be talking about work, friend groups, church, etc. What does, or doesn’t, make those environments diverse? I recently had a conversation with a family member that really opened my eyes to the narrow lenses through which I was viewing diversity.
When we talk about diversity, we always talk about gender, sexual orientation, race; but what we don’t talk about are things like physical or mental ability.
I’m not sure why, at 32 years old, this quote blew my mind, but I thought about it all night. How do workplaces address accessibility? I’m not just talking about a wheelchair ramp. I’m talking about office chairs that are comfortable for employees of all sizes. Cabinets that accommodate people of all heights. These are issues that I don’t have to think about because they don’t affect me but that doesn’t make them any less important.
And what about intellectual disabilities? Statistics show that roughly 2–3% of the population deal with these types of disabilities. That may seem like a small number to you but given the world’s population is almost 8 BILLION people, that percentage is not an insignificant number. Too often, issues that don’t impact us personally get pushed to the side; especially when tackling diversity issues within a given environment.
It’s not just about checking a box.
Diversifying your environments, specifically in a work setting, is not simply about doing it because it’s trendy. Or because you feel societal pressure. It has to be about changing your environment for the betterment of the people within your organization, and for your business as a whole. Not only does diversity have tangible “corporate culture” benefits, but there are also well-researched financial benefits.
A 2017 study done on diversity and financial performance by McKinsey & Company revealed some very interesting correlations between diversity and company financial performance. Of note:
Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians (exhibit).
But let’s dive into it a little bit more because I don’t want anyone to get confused. We aren’t simply talking about hiring for entry-level positions. This strategy is used too often within organizations to point out company diversity without showing how the numbers are skewed. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with an executive within the soccer world. He explained to me how his organization was committed to diversity hires.
We have a Hispanic man on our sales team, two women in our marketing department, and a black intern.
I applauded him for his efforts to provide minorities with opportunities in his organization. I next asked what his executive team looked like. And what diversity meant for him. And how he is empowering those hires to make decisions within the company. The stumbling responses were as expected.
Looking closer at the data from the McKinsey & Company report, it shows the impact of hiring minorities at the executive level of companies. Data suggests that gender diversity on executive teams leads to increased profitability. That means empowering women to make decisions within your organization. Data also suggests that ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform industry profitability averages. What does that mean? Empower minorities to lead your companies.
It’s the diversity of thought that can change the views of your business and how it’s run. It’s the diversity of experiences that can provide insight that you may not have had before. Honestly committing to diversity, and not just doing it for vanity purposes, will change your business for the better.
It’s about impact.
We’ve already discussed the impact diversity can have on your company, from a financial perspective and a cultural perspective. We understand that more diverse hires in empowered positions throughout your organization provides a greater opportunity for success. But how does this have a tangible impact outside of your organization?
More diverse companies are better able to attract top talent; to improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making.
At the end of the day, businesses are about making money. The customer has a massive impact on the success your business has. The broader your audience, the more opportunity to increase revenue. In a world full of technology, the ease at which you can reach people is ever-increasing. Customer touchpoints no longer require human interaction. Google makes it easier than ever for people to find out who you are and what your company is about.
More than ever, who you are as a company can play into the amount of success you have. Customers crave a company with a conscience. They want to see themselves represented in the fabric of your organization. It’s not just about the words you put on your website. It’s about the people that inhabit it. Does your “about us” section look like the wide variety of customers you are trying to serve? No matter how much you may hate the phrase, representation matters for a lot of people.
And not just representation. People care about values. People care about your mission. People care about the actions you are taking beyond what your marketing team comes up with. Social impact. Something greater than the bottom line. Community relations that aren’t just for PR. Providing opportunities for people of all races, colors, creeds, abilities, and beyond has an impact greater than anything that can be quantified.
To learn more about my thoughts on diversity, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. You can also check out some the work I’m doing with a few different non-profit organizations, Anti-Racist Soccer Club and the Black Player’s Alliance. Follow my page for more great articles and insight!