Making the Business Case for Diversity

Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly, Volume 31, Number 2
June 2021 Publications

We all have heard the word, “Diversity.” Diversity can be described as the state of being diverse or having a variety or a range of different things. We live in a complex and sometimes complicated society shaped by an interconnectedness of different people with different ideas, backgrounds, beliefs, and different upbringings, that form the fabric of society. The reality is our workplaces tend not to mirror this fabric of our society. A workforce free of discrimination that combines workers from different backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, associations, upbringings and talents can create a more productive and growth-oriented environment. Other than the obvious reasons for promoting diversity in the workforce, there are undoubtedly benefits to diversity that can add to a business’s bottom line.

Diversity drives economic growth

If the census data is correct that by 2050, there will be no racial or ethnic majority in our country, then companies need to be ready to adapt to our changing nation to be competitive in their markets. See https://www.pewresearch.org/hispanic/2008/02/11/us-population-projections-2005-2050/. Diversity fosters a creative and innovative workforce because it brings together people with different skill sets, qualifications, experiences, perceptions, and insights that one group of people who lack diversity are not likely to be able to provide. The combination of talent, along with the specific skills and aptitudes a diverse workforce brings, will likely result in a greater number of diverse employees who enter the workforce and therefore drive economic growth.

Businesses capitalize on the talents of diverse employees

Businesses capitalize on talents of those diverse employees who understand the needs of the increasingly diverse society. In the law, juries are becoming more diverse because they are by-products of society itself. Our job as litigators is to produce evidence to the jury in a way that is understandable and to convince the jury, based on the evidence, that our client’s position is the position they should take. As litigators, we all know that there are a number of strategies and techniques to accomplish this feat. However, if the attorney is not knowledgeable and aware of the potential different beliefs, culture and experiences of a diverse jury, then I would argue that that litigator will be less effective in representing their client at trial.

Diversity is critical to effective problem solving

Diversity fosters an environment that is critical to effective problem solving. It goes without saying that if you do not understand the problem there is no way you are going to solve it. It is difficult to find solutions to a problem that involves areas in which those who conform to the same image and backstory have never experienced or been privy to the pertinent information necessary to solve the problem.

Diversity results in a more qualified workforce

Recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates will likely result in a more qualified workforce that will be able to tackle a wide variety of issues stemming from an array of different settings, backgrounds, beliefs, thoughts, experience, etc. This breath of expertise and varied experience from a diverse workforce will simply make companies more proficient. To obtain the best candidates, you must search from a larger pool. If you do this, it is more likely that you will find the best and brightest candidates than if you look in a smaller pool of candidates who all have the same or similar experiences, expertise and backgrounds. As companies grow, I believe it is crucial to tap into the talents of All people which include people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community, in order for these companies to meet the needs of the ever-changing society that will become more and more diverse. It is important to have the people in place that have the knowledge, experience and expertise to understand the needs of all people, and this include the business needs.

Clients are requiring a diverse workforce

The law business is a very competitive business. The success of a law firm depends on the services it provides to its clients. It’s a simple formula: no clients = no law firm. The clients are slowly but surely realizing the importance of the importance of retaining law firms that look like the customers they serve. I believe the reasons for this are both moral and economical. Whatever the reasons, a law firm’s lack of diversity may = no client. Therefore, the bottom line will be impacted negatively.

In summary, the world is changing and businesses, to remain relevant and productive, must accept change and be prepared to change with the world. Society is becoming more and more diverse, and businesses can benefit from this diverse growth from an economic standpoint. Lastly, but just as important, inclusion is a key requirement to reap the full benefits of a diverse workforce.

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