Diversity and Inclusion: An Economic, Social, and Workforce Imperative

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace have become more critical than ever before as a fundamental factor for supporting organizational and business success.

According to McKinsey & Company, organizations that rank in the top 25 percent for gender diversity in executive leadership are more likely to outperform on profitability (21 percent) and value creation (27 percent) compared to their less diverse peers.

Despite growing awareness, recognition, and investment in diversity and inclusion initiatives, massive disparities in job opportunities persist among various demographic groups. And despite the growing diversity of the global workforce, leadership levels of most companies look strikingly similar to the white male-dominated leadership teams of the past.

Complexity of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

To achieve top- and bottom-line financial success, drive innovation that leads to market growth, and become the brand of choice for customers, employees, and partners, companies must adapt to changing workforce demographics. It’s no secret that diversity at every level of the business — from leadership to product development, sales, and service — should reflect the customer base. Only through diverse thinking and approaches can innovation truly be cultivated.

Results from extensive research led by Frank Dobbin, professor of sociology at Harvard University, shows that companies realize improved outcomes when they ease their control over diversity requirements. After analyzing three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. firms, Dobbin revealed that interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams, and task forces are effective in boosting organizational diversity. In fact, he reported that some of the most effective solutions aren’t even designed with diversity in mind. Instead, they spark engagement, which then encourages people to engage different groups to share experiences and ideas.

But, ultimately, diversity, or the lack of it, is a direct result of people making decisions about employees. Who applies to work at our organizations, who we choose to hire, how we choose to manage, who we choose to expose to career-building development, who we choose to reward and recognize, and who we choose to promote into leadership roles are just that: choices. On a global scale, these decisions appear to favor certain demographic groups more than others. However, such bias is often not intentional, but instead based on unconscious preconceptions that cause decision makers to reach conclusions through their inherent view of the ideal employee or leader.

Best Starting Point to Catalyze Change and Business Success

Business leaders need tools that provide them with relevant information at the point of decision, enabling them to rely less on gut feel about whether people “look right for a job” and more on job-relevant data, insights, and intelligence. Companies need tools that allow them to attract, engage, and harness all the best talent available in an increasingly diverse market. And to drive adoption of these tools, they must be intuitive and embedded into day-to-day operations.

This is the vision behind the SAP initiative, Business Beyond Bias. HR, managers, and employees can leverage features within SAP SuccessFactors HCM Suite to identify and mitigate unconscious bias from those decisions and support processes that enable a diverse, inclusive workforce.

Enhanced with machine learning and artificial intelligence, our human capital management (HCM) solutions interrupt key strategy and talent decisions made by HR, executives, line managers, and every member of the workforce. The technology enables businesses to move beyond bias and ensure all the best talent available is harnessed.

In today’s rapidly evolving world of work, companies can no longer afford to continue doing things in the same way. The time is now to leverage tools, processes, and practices that will move your business beyond bias.


Watch the replay of our webinar with Frank Dobbin: Diversity and Inclusion Programs That Get Results and How Technology Can Help. Plus, tap into our research and resources to learn how you can cultivate a culture of diversity and inclusion to attract and retain top talent:


Tamara Phillips is global director of Business Beyond Bias for SAP SuccessFactors.