The Meaning and Value of Diversity

Skilled immigrants bring new ideas and new perspectives to organizations, helping them succeed in ways they never have before. They help organizations look outside what they think of as normal solutions to find innovative ways of tackling increasingly complex challenges.

In fact, workplace diversity is among the most important predictors of an organization’s sales revenue, customer numbers and profitability, according to the 2009 report “Does Diversity Pay? Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity,” published in the American Sociological Review.

Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than those with the lowest levels of racial diversity, found the study by sociologist Cedric Herring.

While not all skilled immigrants are visible minorities, in 2006, 54 per cent of all immigrants in Canada were visible minorities and 75 per cent of those who arrived between 2001 and 2006 were visible minorities, according to The Importance of Diverse Leadership in the Greater Toronto Area, a report by Ryerson University’s The Diversity Institute in Technology and Management.

Herring’s study found for every percentage increase in the rate of racial diversity, up to the rate represented in the population, there was an increase in sales revenue of about nine per cent.

And companies with the highest rates of racial diversity reported an average of 35,000 customers compared to 22,700 among those companies with the lowest rates of racial diversity.

Diversity isn’t only important in the rank and file of an organization, it is also critical at the leadership level, according to the 2008 Conference Board of Canada report The Value of Diverse Leadership.

Diverse leadership has many benefits, including:

  • Increased financial performance.
  • Greater employee productivity and organizational performance.
  • Greater ability to attract and retain talent.
  • Enhanced creativity and innovation.
  • Increased civic engagement.

When managing a diverse workforce, you shouldn’t focus solely on the differences. Instead, you should find the shared values of all employees. This is how you turn diversity into value for your clients or customers, employees and the organization.