How do you calculate the return on a workplace that works for all? The figures are at once hidden and in plain sight.
The recent hit movie Hidden Figures captures the way the U.S. space program reached new heights in the 1960s on the strength of a workforce that included talented black women. Black women mathematicians, known as human “computers,” helped crunch the numbers behind rocket launches during the Cold War space race. One of the women, Dorothy Vaughan, became an expert computer programmer and NASA’s first black supervisor. Another, Katherine Johnson, was so trusted with her calculations that astronaut John Glenn asked for her to double-check the numbers from a mainframe computer before he lifted off to his historic orbital flight.
NASA was ahead of its time in tapping the potential of a diverse workforce. Even so, Johnson, Vaughan and other black women who helped America rocket into space remained largely unnoticed for decades.
Much the same can be said of the data showing that workplace inclusion pays off. The power of diverse backgrounds and perspectives to boost business results has been plain to see for the past thirty years or so.
Until recently, though, it has largely been ignored. Many CEOs have dismissed the findings or marginalized inclusion efforts in the form of a chief diversity officer who is given minimal authority.
But we may be at a tipping point. On the one hand, the case for maximizing the human potential of all employees is growing ever stronger. We see this in our own research at Great Place to Work. In producing the annual 100 Best Companies to Work For with our partner FORTUNE, we have discovered that even these great organizations typically have pockets of people not fully experiencing a culture of respect, credibility and fairness. We find gaps between women and men, between frontline workers and managers, between people of color and white employees.
These gaps amount to leaks in the corporate culture, slowing the organization down. We have found that the most inclusive companies outperform in the stock market and grow revenue 3x faster than less-inclusive rivals. In other words, Great Places to Work For All—those that create a consistently positive experience for all employees, no matter who they are or what they do for the organization—race ahead.
At the same time that the mound of data backing diversity is becoming too big to ignore, some business leaders are stepping up and speaking out in favor of fairness. Many are leaders of our Best Workplaces, such as Tim Ryan of PwC, Randall Stephenson of AT&T and Julie Sweet of Accenture. These leaders are showing the courage to defend diversity and make the connection between what’s good for people, for society and for business.
Business leaders are central to building workplaces that work for all. Based on our research into 10,000 managers and surveys of 75,000 employees, we have identified what we call a “For All” leader. These leaders are able to reach everyone on the team and develop their full potential. For All leaders see great results: compared to less-inclusive managers, their teams see a hike in employee intention to stay at the company of more than 125 percent, an increase in cooperation of 300 percent, and a boost in productivity of more than 350 percent.
Leveling up leaders requires figures. It requires data points from employees candidly describing their work experience, so that leaders can see the gaps, work to close them and build a great workplace for everyone.
At Great Place to Work, we are proud to recognize the companies whose employees say they have built great cultures.
Everybody soars when leaders decide to build a Great Place to Work For All. These organizations are better for business, better for people and better for the world. Let’s make the payoff of maximizing everyone’s potential visible, once and for all.
In this series, CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ signatory CEOs share their dedication to acting for workplace diversity and inclusion to make impactful changes that benefit both business and society. Follow along with #CEOAction and learn more at CEOAction.com.