4 Reasons to Demand Diversity and Drive Innovation | Net Impact

4 Reasons to Demand Diversity and Drive Innovation

 Millennials have clout. Your millennial generation has now become the single largest cohort in the American workforce. Companies are anxious to hear from you. They would like to sell you their goods and services, and they would like to hire you. To do any of that successfully, they know they will have to understand your needs and concerns.

For example, you look like no other generation that precedes you; as a group, you are more diverse than your elders. More than 44% of your generation is part of a minority race or ethnic group, according to the Census Bureau.

You think that business needs a reset. The consulting firm Deloitte surveyed 7,800 young adults from 29 countries and the numbers may be sobering even to some of the world’s best companies.

  • 75% of millennials believe that businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than society.
  • 60% said part of the reason they chose to work where they do is because of the company’s sense of purpose.

In other words, most of you want companies that are interested in serving a greater good.

Personally, I think these shifts of your purpose-driven, diverse generation present tremendous opportunity, both for our culture overall and for companies. I’m in charge of social innovation at Toyota – leading both our social impact work and our diversity and inclusion strategy. For us, these ideas go hand-in-hand toward our quest to create value for both our business and our society.

Diversity is at the heart of this journey, and here are four big drivers I see for diversity in business:

 

1. Diversity supports the bottom-line.

Research is showing that diversity and inclusion are not only necessary and right, they pay real dividends. Diversity and inclusion drive innovation and create more opportunity.

A survey by McKinsey & Company of more than 180 companies in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. demonstrates this fact. For companies in the top quartile for executive diversity, returns on equity were 53% higher than for those in the bottom quartile.

Another survey, run by the Center for Talent Innovation, creates an equally strong argument. Employees of firms with diverse leadership were 45% more likely to report a growth in market share over the previous year.

 

2. Diversity spurs innovation.

Even after you insert the required caveats – that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, or that surveys need to be broad enough to include a variety of industries – the benefits of inclusiveness make good sense.

If you bring people together of different ages, backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, experiences and ethnic groups, they will have new and more varied ideas, protect against each other’s blind spots, and recognize opportunities that more homogeneous groups might miss.

Companies that are more diverse, especially at the top, have better perspective and can be all the more innovative.

 

3. Diversity allows companies to create products and services that reflect their consumer base.

A company that resists such ideas risks becoming a relic. We at Toyota work very hard to offer products and services for the way people really live. That includes people with all kinds of backgrounds and beliefs. If people look at us and don’t see a company that respects and really gets them, will they want to buy from us? Will they – and all of you – want to come work for us?

 

4. Diversity is the future of the workforce.

There’s a simple logic to it: as the diversity of the workforce grows with the millennials, so too should real inclusion efforts.

 

From this solid foundation of a better representation of American society, companies will be able to produce more innovative solutions for Americans. Everyone wins.

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As Toyota’s first Chief Social Innovation Officer, Latondra Newton is charged with leading an integrated, holistic social responsibility strategy for Toyota in North America. In this role, Ms. Newton has united Toyota’s diversity & inclusion, philanthropy and community relations commitments and activities across North America under one function for the first time. (Read the full speaker profile.)