Embrace diversity – and get access to the broadest possible talent pool

Diversity is a complex concept which encompasses the spectrum of different similarities that distinguish individuals. This complexity comes from and is often being associated with the struggle about gender, quotas, rights and what is reasonable. And, in the process, who wins and who loses. 

But diversity is, however, a resource. A possibility. A potential.  

A study by Boston Consulting Group shows that businesses that work with diversity perform considerably better than their competitors. For example, the key profitability indicator, EBIT, is 9% higher in companies with above-average diversity in their management. Their innovative abilities measure 19% higher.  

Diversity in the workplace is therefore a major stimulus to increase a company’s performance.    

Most often diversity is defined in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, and disability, also reflected in the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which many businesses are working towards. A diverse staff of co-workers that reflects the society in which it operates is an expression of inclusion and social responsibility. 

As part of their efforts to create a greater gender diversity in the Danish workplace, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) has now published The Gender Diversity Pledge, with the goal of having a 40/60 distribution of gender in management and board positions by 2030.  

The initiative arises out of necessity. Skilled employees are the most important driving force for a business’ abilities to innovate and compete, and it is necessary to have access to the broadest possible talent pool – not just 50% of it or less. 

If businesses really want to derive benefits from diversity, it often requires both widespread commitment within management and strategic prioritisation – not just focus from the HR department.  

There is a great risk of ending up in a symbolic initiative to meet a gender-based agenda goal or some other easily stated KPI target. Therefore, diversity must be converted from a task to be shouldered by the HR department to a strategic priority for the management.  

But the strategic perspective is one thing. The actual tools that can help create balance and a high degree of diversity in practice is quite another.  


Five decisive points to be aware of for increased diversity:

  • Pay more attention to what you can do to make your business an attractive place to work; one that welcomes and includes people who are different than yourselves.  
  • In the rationale of ‘for’ and ‘against’ gender quotas, any fraction has a numerator and a denominator, so there are two possibilities for changing the fraction. Consider how you can deliberately increase diversity, e.g., more women or different ethnic origins, with the aid of various initiatives. 
  • Make it one of your goals to have a high degree of diversity among the applicants throughout the new employee screening process. Make the extra effort to identify and encourage passive candidates in the target group to apply. It requires creativity to winkle them out!   
  • What about the job postings themselves? They are worth giving a thorough quality check. Make sure that the job advertisement is broad enough to open for and allow diversity. A job description can be so narrowly defined that it only fits one person. It’s called the Cinderella Effect; the shoe will only fit one particular type of candidate. It is not intentionally hurtful, but statistically, it is what it is.  
  • Remove any form of bias in the job advertisement. Be aware of the terminology you use. Look closely at the expressions used: Could you express yourselves more neutrally, so that you include more groups and types of candidates?

The bottom line is that diversity is not a goal, but a means towards a better, more competitive business. An approach to talent that generates consensus and creates long-term results – not despite, but because of our mutual difference. 

So, embrace diversity – and get access to the broadest possible talent pool.