Delivering through diversity

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Our latest research reinforces the link between diversity and company financial performance suggests how organizations can craft better inclusion strategies for a competitive edge

Awareness of the business case for inclusion and diversity is on the rise. While social justice typically

is the initial impetus behind these efforts companies have increasingly begun to regard

inclusion and diversity as a source of competitive advantage, and specifically as a key enabler of growth. Yet progress on diversification initiatives has been slow. And companies are still uncertain about how they can most effectively use diversity and inclusion to support their growth and value-creation goals.

Our latest study of diversity in the workplace, Delivering through diversity, reaffirms the global relevance of the link between diversity—defined as a greater proportion of women and a more mixed ethnic and cultural composition in the leadership of large companies—and company financial outperformance. The new analysis expands on our 2015 report, Why diversity matters, by drawing on an enlarged data set of more than 1,000 companies covering 12 countries, measuring not only profitability (in terms of earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT) but also longer-term value creation (or economic profit), exploring diversity at different levels of the organization, considering a broader understanding of diversity (beyond gender and ethnicity), and providing insight into best practices.

Diversity and financial performance in 2017

In the original research, using 2014 diversity data, we found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 15 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. In our expanded 2017 data set this number rose to 21 percent and continued to be statistically significant. For ethnic and cultural diversity, the 2014 finding was a 35 percent likelihood of outperformance, comparable to the 2017 finding of a 33 percent likelihood of outperformance on EBIT margin; both were also statistically significant.

The relationship between diversity and business performance persists.The statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance demonstrated three years ago continues to hold true on an updated, enlarged, and global data set.


The full reportpdfarrrow