The Evolution of Diversity: From 'The Right Thing' to Business Strategy

By Anne Lindberg

We love it when our interviews and our hard data support each other, and that's just what happened in our recent major study on diversity. If you haven't read it, I recommend my colleague Mary Ann Downey's TrendWatcher from early October, where she writes about the interviews she has done with various diversity practitioners.

Now the hard numbers are out, and they reinforce Downey's contention that diversity is evolving into a bottom-line business issue. Although we're still analyzing results, the initial data shows some fascinating trends.

Take, for instance, information about the business case for having a diverse workforce. Companies at all performance levels seem to agree that diversity is integral to their business strategy. But high-performing organizations are more likely to say diversity is also a way to "reflect customer base/community demographics" (26%) than are mid-range (12%) and lower performers (10%). And, in a kind of mirror image, high performers (6%) are less likely than mid-range (13%) and lower performers (18%) to say they concentrate on diversity because "it's the right thing to do."

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