Diversity is more than a box to tick. It's a smart business strategy.

Should businesses foster diversity just because of the political climate, or are there other inherent advantages in having diversity of people and thought?

This series on diversity and inclusion is sponsored by Amway, which supports a prosperous economy through having a diverse workplace. Companies committed to diversity and inclusion are better equipped to innovate and drive performance. For more information, visit amwayglobal.com/our-story.


It seems for most of Western history, from the age of exploration until a little after the second half of the 20th century, males of European ancestry did all that they could to bar those of other backgrounds from places of power and prestige in the social, economic, and political spheres. Although we've made much progress since, this legacy is still with us today.

This is evident in the U.S. federal housing policies of the 1930s, such as “redlining" communities of color, which impacts their access to services, quality education, and employment opportunities even now. Similar policies occurred in many other places around the world, such as in Europe, the U.K., South Africa, Canada, and Australia.

Since the end of colonization and apartheid, and the civil rights movements in the U.S. and elsewhere, diversity has been promoted—at least on the surface. This isn't only a quest for social justice, however. It's also a shift in consciousness. But are businesses accepting diversity just because of the political climate, or is there really something to it?

There are actually a number of studies that show that diverse organizations are far more vibrant and versatile. A 1995 study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that those organizations that embrace diversity are not only more productive but possess competitive advantages as well.

How do we define it? Workplace diversity can be defined as a place where employees have varying traits, including those that denote race, ethnicity, gender, culture, religion, age, or generation. People with neurological differences and people with disabilities are also included. So, what are the benefits of a diverse workplace?

Diversity policies help to recruit top talent


Credit: Cydcor Conference 2013. Flickr
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Diversity policies allow a company to draw from a greater talent pool. Without such policies in place, not only could an enterprise miss out on some very talented people, but recruiting might also take longer and therefore cost more. Those companies that have a more diverse staff can also benefit from a greater degree of perspectives. As such, diversity drives innovation.

In a 2013 article in Harvard Business Review, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, and Laura Sherbin explain what they call 2D diversity and how it impacts enterprises. The first element is someone's inherent diversity, which they are born with—for example, race and sexual orientation. The other is their acquired diversity, which is gained through experiences such as training, living in another country, or interacting with a specific group or culture often.

Their research included 40 case studies, several focus groups and interviews, and a national survey of 1,800 professionals. The researchers found that organizations run by executives with at least three acquired diversity traits and three inherent traits performed the best. They looked specifically at the diversity of the executives within a company and their own reported market outcomes.

Firms with more diverse leadership were 45 percent more likely to report that their company's market share grew over the past 12 months. They were also 70 percent more likely to report that they entered a new market in that same time frame. When executives embody diversity and embrace it, everybody wins.

Diversity drives creativity


Dating someone from a background different from yours has been shown to increase creativity and problem-solving skills. (Credit: April Sylvester. Pixabay.)

In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers discovered that intercultural relationships promoted innovation and creative thinking. As Harvard Business School professor Roy Y.J. Chua told Entrepreneur.com, “Teams that include workers from different backgrounds and experiences can come up with more creative ideas and methods of solving problems."

Intercultural dating also improves a person's performance on creative tasks. Researchers showed that those who dated diversely were more likely to come up with a creative name for a marketing product. “The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives," says Chua.

If an enterprise markets to or interacts with the general public, it's important that team members in those departments remember that diversity will be on customers' minds. Projecting diversity is expected to pay off more and more in the future. According to a U.S. Census snapshot taken in the year 2015-16, America is now more diverse than ever before. Babies of color outnumber white babies, according to that report. Such a fact portends much for a company's future.

What's been dubbed the "browning of America" continues on and Caucasian Americans are expected to lose majority status somewhere around 2020. Not only will diversity be crucial in marketing and sales, but for optics as well. Better optics means not only a better reputation but a lower chance of litigation.

Diversity helps companies break into new markets


London. (Credit: Getty Images.)

Besides fewer lawsuits, a greater talent pool to draw from, effective marketing, better optics, and an influx of creativity, diversity policies also garner an organization more opportunities. Who better to reach women, the LGBTQ community, or the immense and growing Asian market than someone from that particular background? Greater diversity could allow for opportunities to enter into foreign markets as well. Middle classes are rising in developing countries all over the world. What a company needs is someone who knows those communities well and how best to reach them.

Successful businesses today are embracing inclusiveness more and more. Disney, the Virgin Group, and PricewaterhouseCoopers have all diversified their workforce. In an intensely globalized world, it's becoming more and more important in order to break into new markets. But diversity alone won't do it. Studies have shown that besides having all kinds of different people on the payroll, it's important to develop an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas. To do so, executives should help foster relationships, build up teams and individuals, and invest in their people.

To learn more about why diversity is so important in the workplace, click here:

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7 brilliant Japanese words we need in English

Ever wanted to describe precisely how crummy you feel after a bad haircut?

Culture & Religion
  • English is a phenomenal language, but there are circumstances where words seem to fail us.
  • Often, other languages have already found a solution to expressing the complicated ideas that can't be succinctly conveyed in English.
  • If you've ever wanted to describe the anguish of a bad haircut, the pleasure of walking in the woods, or the satisfaction of finding your life's purpose, read on.

Don't get me wrong. The English language has some very excellent words. There's petrichor, the pleasant smell of the first rain after warm and dry weather. Paraprosdokian—which describes sentences that end surprisingly, forcing the reader to reinterpret the first half—is both oddly specific and fantastic to say out loud. I'm even a fan of new inventions, like tweetstorm, even if I'm not a fan of the experience.

But English-speaking culture—like any culture—has a limited perspective on the world. Just like English, Japanese also has some five-star words that English could stand to borrow. The Japanese have an entirely different perspective on the world than many English-speaking cultures—as proof, it's tough to imagine that the politely reserved Japanese have a word for defenestrate, or the act of throwing somebody out of a window. Here's the top 7 Japanese words that we could use in English.

1. Ikigai

(Flickr user Raul Pacheco-Vega)

Literally translating to "life value," Ikigai is best understood as the reason somebody gets up in the morning—somebody's reason for living. It's a combination of what you are good at, what you get paid to do, what you love to do, and what the world needs.

We often find our ikigai during flow states, which occur when a given task is just challenging and absorbing enough that we forget time has passed, that "in the zone" sensation. But it's more nuanced than something that is simply absorbing or a passion; it's a fulfilling kind of work that benefits oneself and others.

2. Karoshi

Karoshi, or death from overwork, provides a nice contrast to the concept of ikigai. Japan's work culture is so over the top that dying from working too hard is not uncommon. This word covers a range of ailments from heart failure to suicide, so long as the root of their cause is in working too hard.

As another hardworking nation, the U.S. could stand to better appreciate the dangers of overwork. Americans put in an average 47 hours a week, which is demonstrably bad for our health.

3. Shinrin-yoku

(Flickr user jungle_group)

This word translates to "forest-bathing," which sums up the activity fairly well. It's getting outdoors to de-stress, relax, and promote well-being. While the concept is familiar, we clearly don't place enough importance on getting outdoors to honor it with its own term.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend about 87% of their time indoors, which is clearly too much. Meanwhile, being in nature is associated with a slew of benefits, like improving memory, reducing stress and anxiety, and even lowering inflammation. Scotland has the right idea—doctors in Shetland can now prescribe nature to their patients.

4. Shikata ga nai

Used interchangeably with shouganai, this term roughly means "it cannot be helped." You can think of it as the Japanese equivalent of c'est la vie´or amor fati. It's the idea that one should accept things outside of one's control with dignity and grace and not implode from the pressure of having no control over a terrible situation.

This concept is a bit controversial. During the U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese-Americans resigned themselves to their mistreatment, characterizing the situation as shikata ga nai.

On the other hand, when a tsunami devastated Japan in 2011, many outside observers commented upon the stoic way the Japanese carried on with their daily lives, an example of the positive side of shikata ga nai.

5. Tsundoku

(pexels.com)

While it's a little less high-minded than the previous words on this list, it's certainly one that I and others could use. A combination of tsunde-oku (letting things pile up) and dukosho (reading books), tsundoku is the practice of buying a book you swear you're going to read, obviously not doing that, finding a new book you swear you're going to read, and then letting these abandoned books pile up in your house until it's a certifiable fire hazard.

6. Irusu

Garden State (2004)

You're in a terrible, anti-social mood and don't want to see anybody at all today. Suddenly, your doorbell rings; you lie as still as possible in your bed (surrounded by the hordes of unread books you purchased), praying the unwanted visitor leaves. This is the practice of irusu, or pretending not to be home when somebody rings your doorbell. It's a very common experience, although maybe the modern-day equivalent is responding "Sorry, I just got this" hours after you actually saw a text.

7. Age-otori

Not everybody practices tsundoku, and I'm sure some extroverts are entirely unfamiliar with practicing irusu, but everybody can identify with getting a bad haircut. Age-otori is the feeling one gets after leaving a barbershop looking worse than you did going in. It's an ingenious word for the unique blend of regret, suffering, and shame you feel after you foolishly trusted your elderly barber when he said "Yeah, I can do a hard part."

Bonus words

While Japanese has some phenomenal words, there are some that the English language probably doesn't have need of. For example, a nito-onna is a woman so obsessed with her job that she doesn't have time to iron her blouses and so resorts to wearing knitted tops constantly. It's a wonderfully specific word, but its specificity probably doesn't translate to English-speaking contexts.

There's also the hikikomori, a mostly Japanese phenomenon involving modern-day hermits that don't leave their bedrooms for years and years. People like this exist in English-speaking contexts, but we generally characterize these as people suffering from anxiety, as loners, or hermits. In addition, part of what makes a hikikomori is the high pressure and highly ritualized nature of Japanese society, a feature that is mostly absent in English-speaking contexts.

So, write to our good friends Merriam and Webster. Let's see if we can pack a little more utility into the English language.