The Competitive Advantage of Diverse Perspectives

By Derven, Marjorie | Talent Development, August 2013 | Go to article overview

The Competitive Advantage of Diverse Perspectives

Derven, Marjorie, Talent Development

Numerous trends have converged to make diversity and inclusion (D&I) a business imperative. Organizations are increasingly global, and changing demographics are transforming the way they attract, retain, and develop their talent. In addition, slowing growth in developed countries has propelled expansion to emerging, previously untapped markets, and customers require innovative solutions.



What it means

Internally, D&I promotes capturing the best available talent and creating an environment in which diverse perspectives encourage innovation and improved decision making. Externally, it focuses on understanding ethnic, cultural, religious, and other differences to better capture market share.

With compelling evidence that a focus on D&I will improve bottom line results, organizations ignore this at their own peril. Over a 10-year period, DiversityInc.'s Top 50 Companies outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by 22 percent and NASDAQ by 28 percent, according to Catalyst. Dramatic results from McKinsey & Company that demonstrate the impact of executive-board diversity in the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom show that companies that ranked in the top quartile for diversity had returns on equity that were 53 percent higher, on average, than those for the least diverse companies.


Changing perspectives on D&I

Understanding about D&I has shifted within the United States from an early emphasis on reducing legal risk and accommodation to a broader view of enhancing differences for advantage. Elizabeth Nieto, global chief diversity and inclusion officer for MetLife, which operates in more than 40 countries, has seen this evolution first-hand.

"In the U.S., we've evolved from being legislation- and compliance-focused and ensuring access to educational and work opportunities, to viewing diversity and inclusion as a competitive business advantage," she says. "Globally, customers have changed and companies need to adapt and serve a broader sector of clients and communities or they will disappear from the marketplace. Businesses need to ask themselves, 'Who is making the purchasing decisions? Do we understand their emerging needs?'"

With globalization as a key driver for business success, coupled with seismic demographic change, being successful in D&I requires knowledge of differences outside of U.S. borders. Ernie Gundling, president of Aperian Global and editor of Global Diversity, says, "We need to broaden our definitions of D&I, which has a very different meaning globally when compared to a U.S.-centric perspective. It's essential to look at diversity and inclusion through the lens of each country."

In addition to race, ethnicity, and gender (core elements of diversity in the United States), other factors such as age, socioeconomic status, educational background, and religion may play a role in different countries that are equally if not more critical. Using Japan as an example, Gundling explains that with its "extremely low birthrate and a population that has already begun to shrink, a defining diversity factor is generational. There is a major disparity between older and younger members of society that has an impact on consumer behaviors, workplace attitudes, teamwork, and appetite for risk taking."

Terry Hogan, co-author of What is Global Leadership? and director of Citi Talent Management at Citigroup (which operates in 160 countries), sees complexity as a crucial competency today to adapt and thrive. Hogan, who delivers leadership development that promotes these attributes, says, "Organizations thrive on leaders who have the capability of solving complex problems and recognizing opportunities. When people understand their own assumptions, mental maps, and cultural dictates, they become more capable of understanding and including others' ideas. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Competitive Advantage of Diverse Perspectives


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.