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Here’s a Simple Fact on Diversity That Most Everyone Should Agree On

I’m not here to defend the social imperatives of diversity. With the endless news stories screaming at me from a multitude of media sources, it’s tempting to join the rising crescendo of voices attesting to how crucial immigration has been to America, how critical diversity is to our society, and how dangerous bias of any kind is to our wellbeing. As tempting as it is to chime in, I’m not here to defend the social aspects of diversity because there are many more qualified voices who are already doing that, and will continue to.

I am here to talk about a different side of diversity that is generally bipartisan, and frankly, simple to understand.

Diversity is good for business.

At i4cp, our research focuses on the people practices of high-performance organizations. We define high performance companies as those with better revenue growth, profitability, market share, and customer satisfaction than their competition. We look at this over a five-year time horizon, and we focus on the top quartile of these organizations.

And when it comes to the people practice of diversity and inclusion (D&I), the simple fact is that most high-performing organizations are really good at it. Consider these four findings from our research:

Four diversity attributes that link to market performance

As this chart shows, top-performing organizations are often twice as likely to embrace D&I than low-performing companies. But embracement can be tricky. With so much pressure to “be diverse,” some organizations embrace diversity for all the wrong reasons (i.e., for PR purposes, compliance, etc.). Top companies make D&I integral to their business. They embrace diversity’s impact on innovation, and generally make it part of the fabric of the company. Consider the following diversity drivers on market performance:

Diversity drivers for business performance

While the data is powerful, the stories we’ve uncovered from companies on what their D&I efforts have meant to the bottom-line are even more compelling. From American Airlines to Campbell’s Soup to Intel, leading organizations have been able to document significant business benefits from their embracement of diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The fact that many of these companies are icons of American business is not lost on me. I hope the fact that diversity is good for all American business doesn’t get lost on the country’s new leaders.

Kevin Oakes is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp)