Diversity wins

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Diversity wins

How inclusion matters

The business case for inclusion and diversity is growing stronger than ever

The business case for inclusion and diversity is growing stronger than ever

While companies have been slow to make significant progress, a close look at “diversity winners” shows that a systematic business-led approach and bold, concerted action on inclusion are needed to make progress.

Representation varies by region and industry

Representation for minorities remains on average below 25% for gender and ethnicity

Average representation in 2019 leadership teams, %

Inclusion matters

Even when companies are more diverse, many appear as yet unable to cultivate inclusive work environments in an effective and consistent way thus missing out on the benefits of diversity.

choose your imagechoose your image

Where is the disconnect?

Diversity does not guarantee inclusion. Companies need to make a concerted effort to ensure equality, fairness and openness to reap the full benefits of diversity.


Negative sentiment around equality ranged from 


across the industries.

There is a widening gap between leaders and laggards

One-third of the firms we tracked since 2014 have achieved real gains in executive team diversity. However about 50% have made little or no progress and, within that, many have seen gender and ethnic minority representation even go backwards.

Taking bold action

Our analysis of diversity winners in our data set, coupled with extensive insights from our research and practice on I&D, has helped identify the winning actions and practices of diversity winners when it comes to inclusion. Together, these imperatives translate into five key action steps.

Ensure representation of diverse talent

Build a business case for diversity that prioritizes the organization’s needs.

Focus on advancing diverse talent across the organization and fix “broken rungs” on the corporate ladder.

Plan for capabilities the organization will need—and set targets for those specific areas. 

Open the door to large-scale reskilling to access diverse talent that may be re-entering the workforce.

Strengthen leadership and accountability for I&D

Define inclusive leadership as a core competency that is specified in job descriptions, assessed in performance reviews, supported by capability-building, and role-modeled by leaders and managers. Advocate I&D among their teams, promoting flexible ways of working, tackling bias, and advocating for “conscious inclusion” of diverse team members 

Enable equality of opportunity through fairness and transparency

Train performance evaluators to minimize bias in their decision making.

Support review committees with observers to flag decisions influenced by unconscious bias.

Deploy software tools to debias recruiting and, increasingly, advancement processes. 

Open the door to large-scale reskilling to access diverse talent that may be re-entering the workforce.

Promote openness and tackle discrimination

Strengthen awareness of the multiple forms microaggressions take, through training that sensitizes employees to be more conscious of their communication styles.Build a company culture which encourages open, productive discussion of difficult topics.

Foster belonging through unequivocal support for multivariate diversity

Ensure clear communication and behavior from managers signaling their support to diversity in its varied forms, through their support for diverse individuals as well as employee resource groups.Encourage and build capabilities among diverse talent to contribute their unique strengths, engage authentically and bring their whole selves to work, often through tailored leadership-development programs.