For too long the definition of diversity among organizations was
linked to feel-good hiring practices and images in an annual
report. But a recent study suggests that there is a lot more to be
gained from emphasizing diversity practices than feel good policies
and PR opportunities.
Diversity Practices Survey, a report from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), suggests: "The business case for diversity has been clearly established in most organizations. Demographic change and globalization are here to stay. People of divergent races, genders, and beliefs are redefining the workplace as well as the meaning of success. Organizations must be well-studied on the markets [to which] they want access and the broad talent pools that exist, which not only bring skills to the table, but provide inlets to those markets.
"Though many diversity practices are logically tied to factors such
as organization size and global reach, companies with higher
market-performance scores noticeably place more emphasis on
specific aspects. By combining analysis of those behaviors with
other demographic variables, this report identifies those practices
that link effective diversity initiatives to higher market
Working closely with an exclusive group of member companies
including organizations such as Deloitte, ING, Pelco, Amway, and
the Federal Reserve Board, i4cp conducted a comprehensive survey of
organizational diversity practices. Mindful that global economic
turmoil has forced some organizations to shift resources away from
such programs to survive the recession, i4cp focused on the
question of what diversity and inclusion success looks like,
particularly in terms of what it means to an organization's bottom
line. Through this process, i4cp and the working group uncovered 12
key diversity practices (see sidebar) that are shared by
high-performance organizations and are correlated with financial
The high-performing companies, according to the report, are more
likely to champion diversity programs. These high-performing firms
are more likely to build the business case for diversity on the
need to reflect their customer base and community demographics.
This is practiced by more than a quarter of high-performance
companies (26 percent) versus 10 percent of low performers.
Additionally, these companies place more importance on framing
diversity as a business-relevant issue and on creating
accountability. Higher performers were almost 26 percent more
likely to do this than lowerperforming organizations.
Nearly half of the high performers specifically budget for
diversity initiatives, versus 27 percent of the low performers. And
of the high-performance companies, the responsibility for diversity
goes all the way to the top office. These companies are more likely
to assign responsibility for leading and executing the diversity
strategy to the executive team. More than a quarter (29 percent) of
high-performance organizations report that the executive team is
responsible, while another 24 percent say the head of HR is
assigned the task.
i4cp's Diversity Practices Survey is available to members.