People come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, interests and strengths. Without a doubt the human race is diverse and complicated. While talk of diversity in the workplace is not a new thing, as more individuals, organizations and politicians speak about feminism, immigration, gender identity, sexual orientation and the gender pay gap, it is coming to the forefront and dominating business news once again, and it is trickling into conversations and initiatives throughout organizations with renewed vigor, attention, focus and emphasis.
While it may feel very intuitive for some that diversity matters and that diversity is a "good thing," Sebastien Reiche starts off his article "Human Diversity: Benefits for CEOs and Their Companies?" explaining why embracing diversity has likely been so challenging for people, workplaces and society. Despite any understanding of why possibly human nature got us into the situation, he focuses on the reality that diversity has created higher value firms, where he cites the conclusions of Yang and Hasan's recent research, ("Differences make a difference: Diversity in social learning and value creation." Journal of Corporate Finance, 48, 474-491.) In summary, their research showed that CEOs with more diverse personal networks improved their company’s value (i.e. stock prices) more than those with less diverse (i.e. more heterogeneous) networks. These CEOs fostered a better corporate ability for handling merger & acquisition activity and for corporate innovation.
Additionally, there are other reports that suggest similar benefits of having a more inclusive and diverse workforce. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean. The reality? Non-homogeneous teams are simply smarter!
McKinsey takes this further in their article on "Why Diversity Matters," where they suggest that companies that commit themselves to diverse leadership, are more successful. More diverse companies are better able to win top talent, have greater employee satisfaction, have better decision making and better customer service. The article states that, "The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and the same country implies that diversity is a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies."
So, what initiatives related to diversity and inclusion (D&I) are driving down into global mobility programs? What ultimately do global mobility teams and D&I teams have to do with each other? What could or should global mobility leaders be considering as it relates to their understanding and role in supporting diversity and inclusion? These are some challenging questions that are being grappled with as global mobility continues to evolve from an operational function with a transactional focus to a strategic business and talent partner within the organization. There is a big opportunity for global mobility and D&I teams to be collaborative partners that support maximizing human potential for the company. According to Deloitte's "Inclusive Mobility: How Mobilizing a Diverse Workforce Can Drive Business Performance," "Diversity & inclusion today is no longer about just 'checking the box' or 'doing good.'" It’s about driving strong business performance and results...and yet:
- only about 20% of global mobility leaders and professionals report having a strong understanding and alignment with their D&I strategies and priorities
- only about 10% report participating with D&I discussions and planning
- less than 15% track and report D&I data related to global mobility programming
So, right there are three specific areas mobility leaders could consider getting more involved with. But I might also suggest ticking a few boxes at one time. There are many that are working on improving the employee experience, so if they are not already, consider looking at improving the experience for all types of diverse employees. Global mobility can evaluate the unique needs and journey map the experiences of women, of LGBTQ employees, of each age group/generation, of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Consider creating and making available supplemental documents, questionnaires or programs that could better support the specific journey of an employee type within the organization. As Deloitte suggests, "aligning global mobility with diversity and inclusion can increase the ROI of each and expand the strategic impact of both efforts by bringing an organization's inclusive culture and talent priorities to life."
The researchers hypothesized that diverse networks provide CEOs with diverse sets of knowledge, which in turn can lead to more innovations. Moreover, diverse networks seem to benefit firms’ growth opportunities, as CEOs with a heterogeneous networkcan more easily obtain foreign contacts and identify cross-border business opportunities. Indeed, checking for this hypothesis, the researchers found that when handling cross-border M&A deals, the diversity of the CEO’s networkwas positively associated with stock market reactions to the deal. As such, the researchers concluded that higher CEO network diversity leads to greater firm value through the channels of better corporate innovation and diversified M&A deals. More broadly, this is another piece of evidence to support our continued efforts in embracing diversity and doing so with purpose and awareness, as falling back into our ‘comfort zone of sameness’ isn’t that difficult after all