There aren’t many one-size-fits-all solutions for business success. Over the years, hundreds of brands have found unique ways to motivate their employees, drive progress, and deliver financial results. Still, there’s a critical element of good business that can elevate any brand. That element, of course, is diversity.
From happier, more satisfied employees to creating more opportunities for out-of-the-box innovation, or even unlocking a better understanding of different consumer demographics, diverse and inclusive workplaces that welcome and embrace people from all backgrounds are critical to a healthy business operation and can accelerate brand performance.
Katelyn Berry, VP at Michelin, knows first-hand how crucial a diverse workplace can be. Being female, a working mom, identifying as a member of the LGBTQ community, and also having a sibling who identifies as transgender, Berry has personal experience with the importance of inclusive environments both at work and away from work.
Over the years, she’s fostered a longtime passion for DEI initiatives and has leveraged her professional career to help amplify the awareness and support for DEI-related topics. In 2016, Berry served as President of Conagra Brands’ LGBTQ+Ally Employee Resource Network. Now, Berry acts as the Executive Sponsor for Michelin’s LGBT+Ally Business Resource Group.
Here, Katelyn Berry outlines a few of the top reasons why businesses should view diversity as an investment worth making, not only because of the importance it serves in societal DEI progress but also because of the impact it can have on any business.
Why Diversity in the Workplace is Important
Acceleration in technology, data, and information access during the 21st century has created greater visibility and data-driven insights into DEI matters, more so than ever before. Companies are leveraging DEI insights, experts, and curricula to continue to understand and address a myriad of DEI topics like racial bias in hiring, gender disparities, and microaggressions in the workplace (to name a few).
Still, the road ahead to address any disparities and inequities across the population is long, and for some, it has been worsened by the pandemic. For example, research from McKinsey found that while women make up 39% of global employment, they also account for 54% of overall job losses during the pandemic.
But women are not alone. A lack of diversity and inclusivity affects all minority groups in the workplace, from not being appropriately represented in candidate pools during hiring to not being considered for leadership roles or being alienated from some company healthcare benefits because of your sexual orientation.
According to Katelyn Berry, keeping a solid commitment to DEI can help make progress against these issues, creating a workplace where everyone can thrive. Below are a few more tangible ways that DEI can help your teams.
Happier, Healthier Teams
At the end of the day, people want to be seen and heard and feel like they belong. This is especially true at work as the line between home and work continues to blur more and more as organizations become increasingly virtual in their operations and allow for flexible work schedules. When people feel like they can be their true, authentic selves and open about their personal lives, it creates a much healthier, supportive environment. As a working mom and the Executive Sponsor for Michelin’s LGBT+Ally Business Resource Group, Katelyn Berry knows how important fostering a welcoming, inclusive company culture is for everyone.
When people feel free to be themselves, they’re 1.5 times more likely to want to give their best in their role. Employees who work in an inclusive culture are three times more likely to be happy in their roles when compared to those who don’t work in an inclusive workplace. Well-being and happiness go hand-in-hand when it comes to feeling included, so it’s important that today’s business leaders put a premium on inclusivity to help foster an ideal environment for employees.
People do their best work when they feel included. It sounds simple, but research has proven it to be true. Based on data from two studies, researchers found that companies greatly benefit from prioritizing diversity, especially when both upper and lower management are racially diverse.
They found that even a 1% increase in racial diversity between upper and lower management created an $861 increase in productivity per year for each employee. That’s nearly $51.6M in incremental productivity annually for the average Fortune 500 company employing 60,000 workers.
How can productivity increase so dramatically? Diverse teams – when diverse from top executives to entry-level positions – create a sense of inclusivity allowing for deeper relationships and the promotion of good communication. What’s more, diverse teams bring various perspectives and life experiences to the workplace, which can lead to more creativity, better decision-making, and improved problem-solving.
Better Decision Making, Better Results
Along with creating a better, more productive work environment, diversity leads to better decision-making and impacts your business’ bottom line. Forbes found diverse and inclusive teams made decisions 2x as fast, with half the amount of meetings, and the decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results. When comparing the profits of businesses across America, researchers from McKinsey found that ethnically diverse companies were 35% more likely to have greater financial returns than the national average. Additionally, companies with diverse management brought in 19% more revenue.
At Michelin, Katelyn Berry has seen the impact DEI-related initiatives can have on business performance, and in many ways, it boils down to the myriad of benefits having different perspectives at the table can bring including better decision making and even innovation.
When staffing her team, Berry frequently seeks out diverse experiences, skills, backgrounds, and demographic makeup to ensure an abundance of divergent thinking, greater creativity, and unique problem-solving approaches. When balanced with an inclusive environment, she believes her team can accomplish anything.
Gain Insights Into Local Markets or Specific Consumer Segments
If you’re looking to expand your business to more markets, attract a different consumer group, or want to cultivate a stronger presence in ones you’re already in, investing in diversity can pay dividends. Things like local networks, understanding of local laws, customs, and consumer preferences can all help your brand adapt and grow in new or already established markets. With a diverse workforce, it’s much easier to find those skills and knowledge in-house.
Marketing specifically is an area where businesses want to have as much diverse input as possible to ensure brands are solving consumers’ needs and creating genuine connections with them. The products, services, and brand engagements need to be authentic, but so does the brand’s focus on DEI. A Deloitte study found that 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities, and high growth brands are more frequently establishing key performance metrics across DEI objectives than their competitors.
While many businesses have made great strides when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, there is still a long way to go. Staying familiar with the many business cases for diversity and keeping current on DEI practices and organizational strategies can help leaders make the best decisions for their companies and their workforce.
About Katelyn Berry
Katelyn Berry is the VP of marketing at Michelin serving on the North American Executive Leadership team. Katelyn has worked for some of the most people-centric companies in the world including Target, Amazon, and now Michelin. She has a strong career record that includes developing and launching four new brands at Amazon and managing Orville Redenbacher’s and Act II at Conagra Brands.
Her early work included success insights and innovation at U.S. Cellular and merchandising at Target. Recently, she graduated from the Diversity Leaders Initiative class at the Riley Institute. The program helps individuals foster diversity in the workplace.
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