New Report – Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce

by | Jan 14, 2012

To gain a better understanding of the role that diversity and inclusion play in companies around the globe, Forbes Insights conducted a comprehensive survey  of more than 300 senior executives. All of the executives were involved in developing, implementing, or managing strategies or programs related to diversity and inclusion for their companies’ workforce. The companies that participated in the survey had revenues of at least $500 million and went up to  more than $20 billion. Geographically, respondents were from the three global regions: the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Key Findings:

  1. Diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale. Senior executives are recognizing that a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas. When asked about the relationship between diversity and innovation, a majority of respondents agreed that diversity is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that foster innovation.
  2. A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial for companies that want to attract and retain top talent. Competition for talent is fierce in today’s global economy, so companies need to have plans in place to recruit, develop, and retain a diverse workforce.
  3. Nearly all respondents reported that their companies have diversity and inclusion strategies in place. However,  not all of the plans are identical. About a third said their companies have global strategies that allow for minimal regional deviation, while half said that their organizations have a global plan that also allows for different strategies and programs in order to address regional needs or cultural differences.
  4. Organization’s diversity goals and priorities won’t change significantly over the next three years. When asked about their company’s current diversity and inclusion priorities, 43% cited retention and development of talent, followed by ensuring diversity in the workplace in general (35%), developing a robust pipeline of diverse talent (29%), and managing cross-generational issues (28%).
  5. Responsibility for the success of company’s diversity/inclusion efforts lies with senior management. In order for a diversity/inclusion plan to have real meaning, there needs to be accountability and oversight. Seven out of ten companies reported that the buck stops at the C-level and their board of directors.
  6. Significant progress has been made to build and retain diverse workforces, but there are still some impediments to companies’ efforts. Respondents feel they’ve made progress in gender diversity, but they feel they’ve fallen short in areas such as disability and age
Jeffrey Tobias

About Jeffrey Tobias

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well-known startups.

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Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Dr Tobias is an accomplished innovation consultant and entrepreneurship strategist, drawing expertise from the academic, entrepreneurial and corporate worlds. Jeffrey’s commercial and business experience is particularly focussed on lean startup, design thinking and leadership. Prior to The Strategy Group, Jeffrey was Cisco’s Global Lead for Innovation in the Internet Business Solutions Group helping Fortune Global 500 companies improve customer experience and grow revenue by transforming how they do business.
Jeffrey is a professor of innovation and entrepreneurship teaching MBA students at the Australian Graduate School of Business at the University of New South Wales. An active angel investor, Jeffrey is on the board of various well known startups. Jeffrey’s corporate background includes leading global innovation strategy at Cisco, working with large corporates such as Adobe, Westpac, Telstra, Woolworths, and Perpetual.

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