It's always nice when peer review confirms what you knew all along, especially when it seems so obvious. According to research published earlier this year, office diversity correlates pretty well to increased innovation and profits. In fact, the paper's authors say they've proved causation, and that it applies across all kinds of sectors.
Researchers at North Carolina State University, in partnership with Portland State University, found that companies which actively sought out employees across spectrums of race, gender, and sexual orientation "were more innovative and released more products," according to FastCompany. Not only that, but diverse companies also had increased employee morale and retention, and tended to better survive larger financial downturns, such as in 2008.
Intuitively, it makes sense that employees from a wider range of experiences and backgrounds will offer businesses more interesting problem-solving capabilities. But intentionally or not, hiring managers and companies throw up a lot of barriers to diverse applicants. Even the referral system itself can self-reproduce a certain monoculture within a company. Luckily, human resource departments have a lot of leeway for improving their prospects. Just paying attention to the wording of a job posting can open up and equalize gender ratios in applicant pools, for instance.
Despite the strong evidence in favor of hiring diverse employees, companies should understand that change (and innovation, and profits) won't kick in overnight. Businesses should also work to make themselves safe for their employees, who should never be tokenized. But if your workplace relies on innovation for its profits, this study is all the more reason to encourage management to get on board.