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4 Common Myths About Workplace Diversity

While there is a growing awareness of the importance of workplace diversity, many leaders and organizations still don’t really understand how or why to create organizations that are truly diverse. This article highlights four common myths about workplace diversity.

Myth #1: Workplace diversity is only about race and gender.

Many leaders and companies have a narrow perspective of the different kinds of workplace diversity. Racial diversity and gender diversity are clearly very important. However, there are other variables that also need to be addressed if you want to build a truly diverse company. As written here, other kinds of workplace diversity include the following:

  • Age diversity
  • Ethnic diversity (which is different from racial diversity)
  • Work experience diversity (which includes the industries and organizations where employees worked in the past)
  • Educational diversity (which includes the degrees that employees have obtained and the schools that they attended)
  • Geographical diversity (which includes where employees have lived and worked)

Myth #2: Workplace diversity is the responsibility of one person, group, or department.

Some leaders and companies make the mistake of thinking a single person (i.e. the Chief Diversity Officer), a single group (i.e. a Diversity Task Force), or a single department (i.e. the HR department) is responsible for workplace diversity. In reality, one person, group, or department is not powerful enough to cultivate an organization that is truly diverse and inclusive.

Workplace diversity is the responsibility of every leader in a company. Organizations that are serious about workplace diversity hold every leader accountable for supporting the company’s diversity and inclusion policies and programs.

Myth #3: A leadership team does not need to be diverse if the rest of the company is.

Some companies only focus on diversity across their entire organization, without also focusing on diversity at each level of their organization, including the leadership level. For example, imagine that a company’s employee base is 50% men and 50% women, yet the company’s leadership team is composed of nine men and only one woman. Is that organization really a good example of a workforce that supports gender diversity?

Organizations that are serious about workplace diversity start at the top by building diverse leadership teams. If an organization’s leadership team lacks diversity, what kind of message does that send to the rest of the organization and to potential new hires?

Myth #4: Workplace diversity is just a social and moral cause.

Perhaps some leaders and companies are slow to build diverse and inclusive workplaces because they aren’t aware of the financial benefits of doing so. Workplace diversity isn’t just a social and moral cause. Research has shown that a more diverse workforce is also correlated with greater profitability. For example, consider the following statistics from McKinsey’s 2018 “Delivering Through Diversity” Report:

  • Companies in the top 25% for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.
  • Companies in the top 25% for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to have greater profitability.
  • Companies in the bottom 25% for both ethnic/cultural diversity and gender diversity were 29% less likely to have greater profitability.

P.S. Looking for more help with your company’s executive recruiting efforts?

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About the author: As the Founder of Stronger Talent, Pete Leibman recruits exceptional leaders for innovative sports, fitness, and wellness companies. Throughout his career, Pete has helped clients recruit exceptional leaders at the Board, C-Suite, Senior Vice President, Vice President, General Manager, Managing Director, and Director levels. Pete’s work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and, and he is the author of two books and over 250 articles on career management, peak performance, and executive recruiting.

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