Diversity practitioners often need to prove the business value of specific aspects of their work: Does Diversity lead to more patents, does Inclusion result in more productivity or will D&I overall impact the bottom-line in a positive way? These and many other facets of the Business Case for D&I were examined by robust research projects that are now available in a unique compendium: IBCR 3.1
The fact that an active D&I management leads to internal and external gains is widely accepted – on a general level. However, in business meetings, you will often hear critical questions about more detailed aspects: Is it the demographic diversity that causes creativity or do you only need ‘diversity of thought’? Are heterogeneous teams actually better performing or only more effective in resolving complex tasks? Can an organisation also benefit in marketing & sales or does the primary value of D&I lie within the employer branding realm? ‘Diversity experts must be able to deliver robust answers to such questions’, Diversity guru, Michael Stuber, advises. ‘And the answers must be concise, clear and carefully evaluated’, he adds.
D&I Management leads to internal and external benefits
The 2016 edition of IBCR actually documents the business case for D&I in both internal and external areas. For internal benefits, the report offers a large array of evidence regarding organisational effectiveness, individual engagement and performance, and with respect to collaboration and team work. The majority of 137 studies fall into these internal clusters, including studies about how age inclusive HR practices can propel performance and decrease turnover at the same time, or how – and particularly under which conditions – ethnic diversity can foster your firm’s innovativeness and creativity. An increasing number of studies look at the conditions required to reap the potential of diversity (so-called mediating or moderating factors). Hence, IBCR 3.1 will help you to deepen your understanding as to how D&I must be implemented so that the business case is realised. This is, of course, not limited to internal areas. The 2016 IBCR includes studies relating to recruiting, marketing or stock performance.
Cultural and Gender Diversity are good for business
The studies included in IBCR 3.1 cover a wide spectrum of Diversity dimensions. Of the newly added studies, 31% looked at business effects of racial/ethnic/cultural diversity, making this the largest group single-stranded works. The largest group of studies is actually cross-sectional. Gender (as a sole focus) accounts for 19% of the newly added studies. The report covers 5 out of 6 socio-demographic diversity dimensions and each offers a solid contribution to business success and each also requires certain enablers so that the benefits will be reaped. IBCR 3.1 includes studies that will emphasise the need for healthy conflict as well as diversity of thought in addition to or in combination with the more traditional diversity aspects.
Reliable research does not include surveys
As a research-focused consulting firm, European Diversity has been scanning the scientific landscape for business case studies since 2006. Back then, they produced their first inventory of research reports showing the benefits of Diversity Management. At the time, they found some 200 studies which were checked for validity and reliability. Most of the studies, however, did not meet the criteria as many researchers had only done surveys. Hence, their results reflected personal opinions rather than objective effects of D&I. 60 studies were included in the very first business case report, each summarised on a single page, showing all relevant information.
The body of research has multiplied since then and today includes 205 studies. 80% of these are from within the past ten years. The largest number was generated by organisations located in Europe, followed by the USA. The latest revision found many new studies coming out of Germany and the UK. Just over 10 % of the studies are International or Global in scope.
The practical value of scientific research
Overall, the International Business Case Report 3.1 (2016) presents an unrivalled collection of selected, high-quality studies on the business benefits of managing differences in a variety of areas. IBCR 3.1 hence provides a mixture of inspiration for comprehensive D&I approaches and empirical evidence on the value added by a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace.