An overwhelming lack of diversity in many companies is one of the biggest issues in the business world today, especially in certain industries. Nearly everyone agrees that diverse workplaces are more successful—they’re more innovative, there’s less turnover, and overall, diverse companies bring in more revenue. In a 2015 study, McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity were 15% more likely to outperform other organizations with less diverse workforces. Ethnic and racial diversity made companies perform even better.
The problem is not in the theory of organizational diversity—it’s in the practice. Almost all companies want the benefits of more diverse teams, but building them can be surprisingly challenging. Leadership’s role in this process is absolutely crucial for establishing a diverse and productive workforce, but so many leaders fall short of their responsibilities in creating this environment. Here’s why leadership needs to take the reins—and a few tips for getting started.