The Business Case for Diversity

This month, we celebrate both Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, so it’s a natural time to be thinking about gender equality and diversity. On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a disproportionately negative impact on women in the workforce, it’s also the perfect moment to remind ourselves that gender diversity is not just a box to check. It’s a strategic priority.

The idea that gender diversity in the workplace is good makes sense at a visceral level. Most of us would agree that having different points of view that are rooted in different life experiences can spark creativity and innovation. Given that women comprise half the U.S. population and control half of the personal wealth, it also tracks that seeking the female perspective widens the talent pool and provides deeper insight into your customers. But, these are soft, feel-good metrics and the research to support them is, to date, pretty sparse.

So, what do we have to go on other than gut feeling?

We did some research and here’s what we found:

*Total diversity measured as the average of six dimensions of diversity (migration, industry, career path, gender, education, age)

We’ll leave you with some food for thought: A recent study of 1069 leading firms across 35 countries and 24 industries found that belief in the importance of gender diversity may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In this study, gender diversity was linked to increased productivity, as measured by market value and revenue, only in countries and industries that believed in the positive effects of diversity.


1. MSCI. The Tipping Point — Women on Boards and Financial Performance, December 13, 2016.

2. Harvard Business Review. How and Where Diversity Drives Financial Performance, January 30, 2018.

3. MSCI. Women on boards: One piece of a bigger puzzle, March 6, 2018.

4. McKinsey. Diversity wins: How inclusion matters, May 19, 2020.

5. The Wall Street Journal. The Business Case for More Diversity, October 26, 2019.

6. Harvard Business Review. Research: When Gender Diversity Makes Firms More Productive, February 11, 2019.

Written By June Chen



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