In the past few years, numerous studies have indicated that on top of the social good it can do, diversity and inclusion has bottom-line benefits for organizations that invest in it. Research has found that diversity helps teams think better by disrupting conformity, that companies with more women in leadership make more money, and that businesses that engage in racial discrimination are more likely to fail. Our work at CEB, now Gartner, also finds that organizations tend to perform significantly better when they have more inclusive work environments. While some scholars have questioned a few of the links between diversity and performance or argued that this isn’t the right reason to invest in D&I, there is plenty of material out there with which to make the business case for it.
Another way of thinking about the value of diversity is in terms of the costs of homogeneity and exclusivity. MIT business professor Evan Apfelbaum recently dove into the specific ways diverse teams can improve teams’ decision making in an interview at the MIT Sloan Management Review. Apfelbaum’s research found that diverse teams spent more time deliberating important decisions, while more homogenous groups were prone to falling into a groupthink trap, where mistaken opinions are more likely to spread. Indeed, that’s one reason to think twice before recruiting for “culture fit.”
Previous studies on juries and student groups found that being on a racially diverse team changed how people approached legal issues and that people prepared more thoroughly when they knew they would be discussing things with a more diverse group. In both of Apfelbaum’s studies, this led to higher quality outcomes.