Why Companies That Value Diversity Do Better

03/07/2017 12:47 pm ET
DigitalVision/Getty Images
DigitalVision/Getty Images

How does a tech company benefit from a workforce that includes more women and minorities? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Rebekah Rombom, VP of Career Services & Business Development at Flatiron School, on Quora:

Study after study shows us there is a business case for diversity – it’s good for a business’s bottom line. Deloitte found an 80% improvement in business performance when companies had high levels of diversity and inclusion. Intel found that if two companies are identical apart from their levels of diversity, the more diverse company will in all likelihood be more profitable. Research by Women 2.0 found that women-led companies achieve 35% higher returns on investment and venture-backed tech companies led by women bring in 12% higher revenue than ones owned by their male counterparts.

Despite this body of research, a study by Lawless Research found that only 23% of the tech founders and executives surveyed believe that diversity actually improves financial performance.

Bringing different experiences, cultural lenses, and biases to the process of running a business begets results that are more likely to represent your whole customer base. And good ideas often come from the collaboration of people with diverse perspectives bumping up against each other – engaging in a discourse, debate, and discussion; inspiring one another to consider refinements and iterations on their concepts, and challenging assumptions by drawing on different experiences and views.

Diversity as we often discuss it – whether it comes from gender, ethnicity, age, geographical upbringing, degree of wealth, or type of education – is a proxy for diversity of thought. Simply put, different people mean different perspectives, and different perspectives mean teams that can solve a wider range of problems — and ultimately make better products.

Consider Flatiron School alumna Victoria Friedman, a female English major and writer who now works as a developer at New York Magazine; or another female Flatiron graduate, a former assistant editor who now works as a front-end engineer at Vogue. Both of these women had experience and interests that are extraordinarily relevant to the software they now develop – experiences that wouldn’t have come from standard software engineering education paths. How can a magazine company build a better CRM for editors? I’m willing to bet a former editor is more clued into the needs and wants of current editors than a more traditional CS-grad engineer — because she herself has had those problems.

By opening themselves up to candidates with a diversity of educational backgrounds, these companies found employees with unique value to add in their functions that the companies might not have found recruiting through traditional paths.

Having a wide range of views and experiences represented on your team means you’ll be in a better position to see — and solve — more and bigger problems. The bottom line: You can’t effectively build products for the whole world if your organization only represents a small slice of it.

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