It's Time to Change the Math on Diversity Hiring

It's Time to Change the Math on Diversity Hiring
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Why you should care

Because companies perform better when they hire a range of talent. 

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When, 20 years ago, I swapped my career in financial tech for a career in diversity, it was still all about numbers. The only question corporate America asked when it came to diversity back then was, “How many do you have?”

This, I knew, was the wrong kind of math. And, in the intervening decades, I’ve watched as companies slowly came to realize that diversity isn’t about looking good with their “how many.” It affects an altogether more important number: the bottom line.

In September, a study by decision-making platform Cloverpop analyzed 600 decisions made by 200 business teams across several companies over two years. The resulting white paper, “Hacking Diversity with Inclusive Decision-Making,” found inclusive teams made decisions twice as fast with half the meetings and came to better business decisions 87 percent of the time.

And that’s not the only supporting statistic. In 2015, McKinsey studied more than 350 large companies in North America, Latin America and the UK and showed those in the top 25 percent for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to produce better returns than local peers. What’s more, companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were even more likely to produce better results.

There are many more examples, but they all show the same thing: Diversity isn’t about “how many”; it’s about improving your talent pool. A company with a culture of diversity — not just diversity targets — recruits the best people, perspectives and ideas and ensures anybody who has the skills to work there is able to do so and feel like they fit.

That’s particularly important for a global company like JPMorgan Chase. We have 240,000 employees working in more than 60 countries, serving clients in more than 100 countries. Innovative technologies, effective delivery, market share — they all depend on diversity. Diversity, for us, is a must.

This is also why we talk about culture. We want diversity to be the core of how we do business. Employees should like coming to work and feel motivated and engaged. They need to feel comfortable being themselves, so they can be the best they can be.

The strategies we use to achieve this are varied. We’re embedding diversity into business plans and increasing management accountability for finding the best talent. We’re asking managers to look for candidates in places they haven’t looked before. And about one in every five of our employees is a member of one of our Business Resource Groups: networking groups connecting diverse employees around the world through shared interests. From my own experience, I know you feel more involved in a company if you build good relationships within it.

But it’s far from perfect. We still have a way to go. I will not consider us successful until we no longer even have to talk about diversity or inclusion — because it’s the norm. What better reason for me to be out of a job?

Patricia David is Senior Diversity Advisor at JPMorgan Chase.