Business success is hardly something that can be boiled down to a single factor. Innovation, resourcefulness, a clear vision. But one aspect repeatedly is left behind in a company’s building and planning phase: diversity. This critical aspect can be a company’s ultimate downfall.

When most people think of workplace diversity, their minds likely jump to the gender and ethnic makeup of an organization or team within that organization. They think of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action laws and acts, but far too often does the real benefit of diversity within an organization fall through the cracks. Diversity in and of itself extends far beyond just which bathroom you use or from what country your grandparents originate.


Study upon study upon study have time and time again proven, by this point conclusively, the benefits that a diverse workplace can have on a company. A McKinsey study  conducted between 2008 and 2010 and published in 2012 showed increases in both ROE and EBIT margin in diverse workplaces. These leaps, which sat globally at 53 percent and 14 percent respectively, were even more evident when the United States was examined specifically. The ROE for US businesses ranking in the top quartile for diversity was 95 percent greater than those in the bottom quartile, while the EBIT margin was 58 percent higher.

Among the wealth of benefits of a diverse workplace–a list which includes lower turnover costs, greater share of the consumer market and greater economic growth, to name a few–is a greater array of varying minds. A Forbes study found that 85 percent of large global enterprises surveyed agreed that diversity was key in “fostering innovation in the workplace.” We’ve mentioned before that risk can breed innovation, but how can diversity accomplish that same task?

Imagine a scenario in which someone–anyone–is presented with a problem. Here, the specifics do not matter. Perhaps an individual is rescuing an abandoned puppy from the other side of a river. What does matter immensely is whether that problem gets solved, and more importantly,  how the problem is solved.

The “someone” in this above scenario is going to play a key part in how to rescue the puppy, particularly, that someone’s background. If the someone is a particularly strong swimmer, he or she may simply dive in, swim across and rescue the pup by hand. What if “someone” were a carpenter who may build a bridge, or a sailor who could sail right across?

This scenario, while basic and seemingly unrelated at first glance, can be widely applied to diversity in the workplace. Different minds from different backgrounds bring different ways of thinking and problem-solving to a business. Not all problems can be solved with the same approach, this is a central tenet of corporate brainstorming sessions and weekly meetings. These meetings would accomplish little if each chair was occupied with an Ivy League educated 65-year-old business major with 40 years in the industry who likes fishing, George Orwell and the San Diego Padres. Instead, diversifying your meetings, and your workplace, can open new doors and solutions that would otherwise go untouched.

If you’d like to talk more about the benefits of a diverse workforce or how you can recruit, hire, and retain a talented staff, contact Koppekin Consulting, Inc.