I encourage people to use, as a measure of success in all diversity work, the same measures that are used for business in general. A quality product, delivered on time, is always the measure in manufacturing. These are the same measures we look at when we talk about how diversity as a catalytic tool has an impact.
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For example, look at how you’ve always done something, and the result you always get. Then try it applying these simple processes. Do you get better results, the same results or worse results? Inevitably, every time I’ve tried it, I’ve always gotten better results.
There have been a lot of major studies over the last 15 years about the impact of diversity on business results and improving business performance – dozens of them. Invariably, they all come to the same conclusion: Diversity, by itself, does not improve business performance. In fact, in many cases, it causes business performance to decline. More diversity, if it’s not properly managed, has a negative impact on business results. Now, they publish those documents and then they bury them, saying, “We don’t want people to know that,” so they’re not very well known.
What I’ve discovered in all of them is that the researchers overlooked a critical step in the process: assessing whether or not the company actually knew what they were doing with diversity. In most cases, they didn’t. They were just getting diversity and standing back and hoping it worked. Diversity, by its nature, is bad for productivity – unless you choose to manage it, in which case it produces breakthrough results. Managing diversity is the key to getting 100 percent from 100 percent of your people, 100 percent of the time.