An important first step in creating an inclusive culture is to understand why diversity and inclusion is beneficial in engineering. The business case is compelling. Research demonstrate the following impacts:
Addressing the engineering skills gap
In the Diversity Leadership Group (DLG) Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Survey Report 2015, tackling the skills shortage was identified as the most important external business imperative for work on diversity and inclusion, identified by 79% of organisations surveyed. 96% anticipated that they would have difficulties recruiting in the future and would like to broaden the pool from which they recruit. 58% of organisations think that “there are just not enough diverse candidates with the skills we need”, making this the biggest challenge to progress.
The UK is in great need of more engineers: an additional 87,000 graduate level engineers are needed each year between now and 2020, but the higher education system is producing only 46,000 engineering graduates annually, which suggests that the UK has a long way to go to fill this predicted skills gap.
Improved financial performance
Analysis of the data from 366 companies by McKinsey revealed a statistically significant connection between diversity and financial performance. The companies in the top quartile for racial/ethnic diversity were 30% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median, and companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median. This correlation does not prove that the relationship is causal — that greater ethnic and gender diversity in corporate leadership automatically translates into more profit — but indicates that companies that commit to diverse leadership are more successful.
Greater innovation and creativity
The DLG Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Survey Report 2015 found that one of the top three business imperatives driving diversity and inclusion work was “enhancing capacity for innovation and creativity” (cited by 83% of engineering organisations).
Scott Page, Professor of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, has looked at the link between greater diversity and increased innovation. In his book The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies, he found that when teams comprise people with different perspectives (arising from their education, experience or identity) and their views were included, a diverse team’s collective intelligence was greater than homogeneous teams even when the homogeneous teams were more capable.
Inclusion drives higher business performance than diversity alone
Most of the respondents to the DLG Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering Survey Report 2015 (83%) were focusing their work on both diversity and inclusion in recognition that employees who feel included are more productive.
Increased motivation, productivity and retention
“Improving employee engagement and performance” was another of the top three business imperatives driving diversity and inclusion work, cited by organisations who took part in the DLG Diversity and Inclusion Survey in 2015.
Research by Opportunity Now and Shapiro Consulting, entitled Inclusive Leadership: culture change for business success, shows that when leaders are perceived by their teams as being inclusive, 84% report feeling more motivated and 81% indicate it has a positive impact on their productivity. Employees with high engagement levels report 3.9 times the earnings per share (EPS) growth rate compared to organisations with lower engagement in their same industry.
Improved customer orientation
In the UK, 80% of purchasing decisions are made by women. By 2025, women are expected to own 60% of all personal wealth and control £400 million more per week in expenditures than men. McKinsey reported that a top team that reflects different demographic groups will have a better understanding of their market behaviour (McKinsey, 2015).
Increased customer satisfaction
Cumulative Gallup workplace studies have shown that organisations that successfully create an inclusive culture have 39% higher customer satisfaction scores than those which do not.
Link to full version of the toolkit report