Why Diversity Matters to Businesses in Today’s Economy

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It’s an acknowledged fact in businesses around the world today that improving workforce diversity, and particularly gender diversity, is a business imperative.

Statistics show that girls are typically outperforming boys in school, up through the university level, and yet this success is still not translating into an equal presence in the workforce – and particularly not at senior levels of business.

All established businesses today must work towards a diverse, gender- and age-balanced workforce. It’s critical to their success. Why? Digital technologies are not only dramatically changing how, where, and with whom the business of business is conducted. They are also changing the skillset required to conduct business. In the context of an ageing workforce and a shrinking labor pool, this presents a real challenge.

Today, the digital economy is the economy. It enables new ecosystems, makes new business models possible and opens up new ways to interact and engage with customers. But the digital economy is inherently different from the ‘established’ economy. Many established businesses today have foundations that were built in the last century, and the corporate world is still primarily defined by the baby boomers - a group which entered the workforce before mobile phones, personal computers and the Internet even existed.

We all need to take responsibility for changing the world of work for the better. Embracing diversity - of thought, of opinion, of age, of gender - is critical for success in the digital economy. And the digital economy is not only the future - it’s today.

Overcoming Challenges

Our Vice President of Marketing at Verizon Partner Solutions, Sonal Patel, has had to face challenging experiences in which men with less skill or fewer qualifications advanced past her during her career. Rather than allowing that obstacle to weigh her down, she self-reflected on ways she could overcome it—shifting her mental focus to further round out her skill sets, looking for growth opportunities and seeking advice from trusted advisors and mentors on how to more effectively lead. Learning from different leadership styles and broadening her skillsets helped boost Sonal’s confidence and overall experience in the field.

At a macro level, the media plays a sizable role in the perception of women in STEM roles. With the additional integration of women in programming and ads related to STEM—whether that’s having a woman portray the lead physician in a commercial or showing a news story that highlights a barrier-breaking woman in industry—there has been a slow-but-sure female representation in our culture, aiding public acceptance and comfort level around seeing women in more diverse roles.

In business, diversity of thought and conversation is key in helping to best serve the needs of our customers. With client contacts comprising both men and women, it is important to reflect that same balance within an organisation to help solve critical business decisions and approach problems from all angles—ultimately benefiting the bottom line.

The Future is Female

In order to attract even more women to technology-based roles, it’s important to develop the skills at an early age. School-based programs can help drive the twinkle in the eyes of future women leaders, and organisations can more frequently introduce technology-rooted words to young girls to better familiarize them with the many possibilities that technology fields offer.

Every year, Sonal runs a marketing class with local grade school students in which she shows them a technology product and walks them through the thought process of how to market and sell it. This is one of the many ways we can work within our communities to help bridge the gap in understanding with the hope of driving additional interest in STEM fields. And, to borrow a phrase from Sonal, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it!”