The diversity dividend: How inclusive businesses gain competitive advantage

Companies with diverse workforces are better positioned to deliver truly customer-centric experiences to all consumers. For example, when building technology, it is important that employees are aware of the cultural connotations of color schemes, symbols, and graphics. Red signifies good fortune in Chinese culture but can denote danger or caution in Western cultures.

Similarly, icons and symbols that are used in software should be universally recognizable or adaptable to different cultural contexts. A seemingly simple color choice can influence everything from purchase decisions to software adoption by different communities. Companies that prioritize a deep understanding of the needs and preferences of culturally diverse global consumers gain a competitive edge.

Disparities in the tech workforce can undermine the customer-centric mission

Living and working in the melting pot of technology and innovation in Silicon Valley, California, I’ve seen firsthand the disparities that exist in the tech workforce. For example, the Black community, which makes up about 7% of the population in this region, represents a meager 1.5% of the tech community. This lack of representation on a local level reflects broader trends across the US and other Western countries.

This disparity is not only a social concern; it’s a significant business challenge. When tech companies fail to represent the diversity of the society in which they operate, they miss out on the rich insights and perspectives necessary to create truly customer-centric products. This oversight can lead to a failure in understanding and catering to a wide array of customer needs, ultimately impacting the company’s bottom line.

The tech companies that first address and bridge this diversity gap have a unique opportunity to gain a substantial competitive edge. They can tap into markets and customer segments that have been historically overlooked, thereby broadening their reach and impact.

How can tech companies effectively embrace diversity?

One approach is through targeted recruitment strategies that focus on attracting a diverse pool of candidates. This involves reaching out to different communities and ensuring that the recruitment process is free from biases that might deter diverse talent. Mentorship programs can play a crucial role in nurturing and retaining diverse talent, providing them with the support and guidance that is needed to succeed in the tech industry.

There are also numerous organizations that can help. For instance, organizations like the Black Data Professionals Association (BDPA) advocate for bringing underrepresented communities into tech. The work that they do helps businesses achieve their own diversity goals. While changing the lives of individuals by offering them opportunities in technology that they may not realize existed because they don’t typically see people like themselves in these roles.

Another critical aspect is conducting diversity training for all employees. Such training  builds a more inclusive workplace culture, where differences are valued and celebrated, rather than just tolerated. It’s about fostering an environment where every employee feels empowered and respected. In this environment, innovation and creativity are applied in culturally diverse directions to generate new business opportunities.

In addition to these internal strategies, companies can look to external programs like IBM® SkillsBuild®. Such initiatives offer resources and training opportunities to develop a diverse talent pool, equipping underrepresented groups with the skills necessary to thrive in the tech sector.

However, implementing these strategies is just the beginning. To truly measure their impact, it’s essential to gather customer-centric metrics such as net promoter score, customer satisfaction score and customer lifetime value. These metrics provide insights into how well a company is meeting the needs of its diverse customer base and can guide further strategy refinements. You can only manage what you measure.

The need for diversity in tech goes beyond social equity; it’s a strategic business move.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and diverse, . The tech industry, which is driven by innovation and change, has the potential to lead by example in this regard, creating not just better products but a better, more inclusive future for all.

Power a diverse future in tech with IBM SkillsBuild

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