The Next Business Revolution: Diversity

 

Mass production changed business and society. So, too, did technology. Now it’s diversity’s turn. Diversity is a critical factor in market growth, according to research undertaken by The Center for Talent Innovation. While workforce productivity gains always improve earnings, continued innovation is required to increase market share and open new markets. And mountains of research now confirms that unlocking innovation requires diversity of thought and diversity of people.


In a world that is increasingly social, interdependent and transparent, feminine skills and competencies – empathy, flexibility, openness and collaboration – are coming to the fore, not just as nice-to-haves but as business imperatives. John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio revealed this finding in their book, The Athena Doctrine How Women (and the Men who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, which was based on research conducted among 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen nations.

As expected, women excel in collaboration, teamwork, building relationships and mentoring. But the big surprise is that they do better than men when it comes to  initiative, follow-through and focus on results, according to Jack Zenger in Forget the Glass Ceiling Build Your Business Without One. He is CEO and cofounder of Zenger Folkman.

The new valuation of these “feminine traits” is reframing women’s leadership, not as a fairness issues but as vital to “innovation, growth and prosperity for companies and society alike,” Gerzema concluded.

Making Diversity Happen

Like the major societal shifts before it, diversity can cause anxiety among those who do not want to change the status quo in hiring practices or don’t know how. Changing minds may take awhile but for those who want to become part of the Innovation Age, the tools are here. Just as algorithms and technology changed the products and services businesses offer, they now enable businesses to change the way they hire.

SAP has purchased and partnered with companies that help other companies open their doors to greater success through greater diversity. The company’s own gender diversity has had a direct impact on its ability to see business opportunities that it might not have seen before, according to Anka Wittenberg, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Office at SAP. Diversity forces the company to go beyond the everyday to find new ways of doing things, she said.

Finding diverse suppliers can be a challenge for corporations and government agencies. It can be equally challenging to minority- or women-owned businesses to unlock these opportunities.  SAP Ariba has partnered with ConnXus to produce software that tracks diversity spend by categories – function, department, geography, commitment to local communities, meeting unique requirements in different countries, etc. Companies with supplier diversity programs can share their list best of diverse vendors with each other.

Another SAP product, SuccessFactors, helps companies eliminate bias in HR decision making. SAP SuccessFactors solutions include HR Analytics, such as a Digital Boardroom/Diversity Dashboard and mentor matching algorithms based on skills sets, not the characteristics of individuals. Job Analyzer, bias-free job descriptions to attract women and men alike, will be out next year.

“Creating a diverse, inclusive and bias-free culture makes us a better company. Inclusion fuels our innovation, enhances our engagement with both customers and employees, and helps drive business success in this rapidly changing, digital world,” said Wittenberg.  In 2011, SAP set a goal that 25% of its leadership to be women. Moving forward, SAP has committed to an increase of 1% each year to 30% by 2022

In short, men and women, entrepreneurs and investors all benefit when gender equality is achieved.

By: Geri Stengel

Source: forbes.com