Everyone knows that diversity is a positive thing. Unfortunately, proving that using hard metrics has been an ongoing challenge. The benefits of diversity, while significant, are often abstract and hard to measure. Thanks to the efforts of enterprising researchers, however, it’s now becoming possible to quantify the real impact of a diverse workforce.
The research was performed by Sara Ellison, an MIT economist, and Wallace P. Mullin, an economist at George Washington University. The pair looked at a large white-collar firm with over 60 offices located across the U.S. They studied revenue data from 1995 to 2002 to analyze how different offices performed, and to cross reference that performance against the diversity of each office.
The most pronounced finding from the study came when the pair compared offices that were single-sex against offices with a mix of genders. It was found that offices with a mix of genders performed 41 percent better than offices with all men or women. That is a significant finding, and one that any manager tempted to skew towards one gender or another should take note of.
The authors attribute this huge jump in revenue to the unique benefits offered by a diverse workforce. Co-workers from different backgrounds have different experiences to draw on and different ideas about tackling problems/opportunities. Rather than clash, these differing ideas complement one another and produce stronger solutions. Solutions that generate revenue apparently.
Another feature of the study worth noting is that the surveyed participants often overestimated the level of diversity present in their workplace. A small level of diversity was often assumed to be much larger, and to have a larger impact on performance.
That underscores a common fact of today’s workplaces, which is that diversity is often exaggerated in the minds of hiring managers. Unless diversity is made a specific goal of the recruiting process, the actual numbers of employees from underrepresented backgrounds often fall short. For that reason, diversity needs to be a strategy, rather than a mere sentiment.
The study focused specifically on gender diversity, but it’s not a stretch to assume that the revenue gains are similar in offices that other forms of diversity as well. Anytime you break up a single-minded approach and add new perspectives to the mix, the outputs are bound to improve.
If your revenues are sagging, the simple solution might simply be to bring some new faces into the office. Dip into a diverse pool of top talent by partnering with Unifound.