HRO Today November 2014 - 61

Sustainable Workforce
Getting Beyond Optics
A panel shares the real business advantages of
diversity and inclusion.
By Bill Hatton
Like many high-minded concepts, diversity and inclusion
can be window-dressing, a panel of four diversity experts
explained at the 2014 COMMIT!Forum in New York. But
beyond window-dressing, there are real business benefi ts
to strong diversity programs.
Amber Johnson, chief communications offi cer, Center
for Values-Driven Leadership, at Benedictine University,
said a 2012 Credit Suisse released the results of a six-year
longitudinal study of 2,300 companies.
" They did an apples-to-apples comparison and found
that in companies that had at least one woman on their
boards - they performed between 17 percent and 26
percent better over that period than companies that
had no women in that position, " said Johnson. " And the
difference was more pronounced as economic conditions
fell. Diversity was a stabilizing factor. It mitigated risk and
it increased growth. "
Of the Fortune 500 offi cer positions, about 14 percent are
held by women. " And that number has stagnated, " said
Johnson. " I think if we took a poll of those in this room
and of executives outside of this room, most executives
would agree that there is a great value of diversity and
inclusion, so that leaves us with one burning question:
Why doesn't the composition of our corporate leadership
actually refl ect that? "
Given studies showing the connection between diversity/
inclusion and profi t, she says executives need to
understand the " profi t we're missing out by not making
a point of diversity and inclusion in our companies. "
Here are three examples of how diversity and inclusion
impacted business from the panelists:
Gamifi cation and Crowd-Sourcing
Kathy Hannan, national managing partner, diversity and
corporate responsibility, KPMG, LLP, said global markets
and rapid change mean getting many voices is essential:
" Homogeneity is a buzzkill. If you look at the world that
we're operating in today-highly competitive, highly
globally oriented, shifting and disruptive technology-all
of which have just accelerated the pace of change [then]
status quo is not good enough anymore. We need to be
constantly changing and challenging ourselves. We work
with a number of companies across the globe, and not just
from an auditing perspective, but also from a growth and
innovation standpoint. It's critical that companies today
that their leadership refl ects their ultimate customers and
buyers in the marketplace. "
As an example of how diversity drives innovation, she cited
the 2011 protein-folding crowd-sourcing case. University
of Washington researchers were stymied with a complex
protein-folding task - essentially, trying to fold proteins
in a way that they'd match what was seen on an x-ray.
They crowd-sourced the task to gamers on a site called
FoldIt and asked them to use the site's 3-D technology
to complete the protein-folding tasks: They made it a
competition. In one day, they had their answer.
" They opened this up to non-academics, non-doctors, and
scientists and engineers and these are gamers, people
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HRO Today November 2014

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