This was originally published in the Los Angeles Business Journal on July 30, 2018.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple said that,“Inclusion of diversity inspires innovation. The best companies in the land will be the most diverse.” Apple has long been the standard bearer for innovation. It is rare for the topic of innovation to occur without mention of Apple’s history of disruption in the technology sector, and essentially reinventing categories of technology we never knew we needed. But Apple has been called out in the past for lack of inclusion. They have reacted with new practices, and claim 50% of new hires are now from “underrepresented groups in tech.” Leading tech companies are now stepping up their game in recognition that diversity and innovation strategies drive their ability to innovate long term, attract and retain the best talent, as well as attract and retain customers who are more educated than ever about consumer options thanks to the very technology being developed in the sector. A study by Salesforce found that 80% of those surveyed believe that companies have a responsibility to go beyond profit to make an impact on society. But gone are the days where diversity and inclusion are merely practices companies implemented to be good corporate citizens. While hiring a diverse workforce should be a social justice imperative, it has in fact been found to be a competitive advantage. McKinsey’s study “Why Diversity Matters” found gender, cultural and ethic diversity significantly increased performance measures in both earnings and profitability.


Bringing together team members with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives was found to be not just correlative but causative for enhancing innovation. Meaning, the diversity of thought itself was a driver of the increased innovative outcomes. GHJ has a practice of selecting teams that represent a cross section of diversity of thought to increase successful and innovative outcomes. A study published this year from NC State’s Poole College of Management concluded workforce diversity in fact enhances firm value. The paper’s title asks “Do Pro-Diversity Policies Improve Corporate Innovation?” “We wanted to know whether companies with policies encouraging the promotion and retention of a diverse workforce – in terms of gender, race and sexual orientation – also perform better at developing innovative products and services,” said Richard Warr, co-author of the paper. “The short answer is that they do.”


In the war for talent, not only are creative recruiting practices needed to discover new avenues to find high performers, but also the cost of attrition can dash bottom line projections – no matter how great a company’s product or sales innovations may be. The Salesforce study, “Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business” found more inclusive cultures drive productivity and employee engagement.

Some stats include:

  • Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five-times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work
  • Employees who say their company provides equal opportunities are nearly four times more likely to say they are proud to work for their company
  • Employees who say they are able to be their authentic self at work are nearly three times more likely to say they are proud to work for their company — and nearly four times more likely to say they are empowered to perform their best work.

“We believe businesses need to focus on closing the Equality gap with the same energy put into creating new products and markets,” said Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer for Salesforce.


Employers are discovering they need to get more creative to find, recruit, retain and develop employees of the future. With one in five Americans diagnosed with a disability, companies are also looking at how their cultures can better embrace flexible and accessible options for the disabled. One example is the Microsoft Autism Hiring Program. Microsoft is collaborating with companies like SAP, JP Morgan Chase, Bloomberg, Ford Motor Company, IBM and DXC technologies, who have all created more inclusive hiring Autism initiatives. They launched the Autism Employer Roundtable, a coalition focused on helping other companies advance their hiring approach for people with Autism to increase their sources for talent. Another great example is Goodwill of Southern California. They are creating opportunities for workforce training and placement to assist disabled, veterans, actually anyone with a barrier to work. Those populations find meaningful work and contribute significantly to the community. In 2017, the total wage gain for job seekers placed in employment by Goodwill Southern California was over $60 million. Those are results you can take to the bank.

“I believe that diversity enriches organizations; from the products you create to the culture of employees rooted in empathy, understanding and a thirst for knowledge,” said Neil Barnett, Director of Inclusive Hiring and Accessibility at Microsoft.

Mari Anne Kehler WEBSITE Standing

Mari-Anne Kehler

Mari-Anne Kehler, CDP, is a member of GHJ’s Executive Committee and leads firm growth strategy, especially in relation to business development and marketing. She is also Strategist for GHJ Foundation, GHJ’s vehicle for purposeful and proactive giving to the community, and Global Leader, Client…Learn More