Type the words “diversity lawsuits” in any search engine and you’ll immediately see the names of large employers that have been recently sued by their employees for some type of discrimination: Fox News, Microsoft, Chipotle, Fiat Chrysler, Hewlett Packard, and Facebook.

Over the past 16 years, Bank of America Merrill Lynch paid out nearly half a billion dollars to settle discrimination lawsuits, according to the Harvard Business Review.

In some cases, lawsuits are forcing some companies to establish diversity initiatives or programs that help build a diverse and inclusive workforce and culture. But why aren’t these strategies already in place? Why isn’t diversity an important priority?

No matter which way you look at it, diversity benefits organizations across all industries. Consider the moral implications. At the very least, people representing diverse backgrounds deserve equal employment opportunities or a fair shot at jobs. From a branding perspective, an authentic, diverse culture helps position companies as an employer of choice so they can attract and retain top talent. Likewise, from a management viewpoint, diverse teams offer unique ideas, which often lead to better client solutions. Not to mention the business case for diversity. Study after study demonstrates that a diverse workforce grows company profits.

Consider a Forbes Insights report – Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce – that surveyed 321 executives at large global organizations who either directly handled or had oversight over their company’s diversity and inclusion.

Based on responses from survey participants, a diverse and inclusive workforce:

  • Drives innovation, fosters creativity and guides business strategies. Multiple voices lead to out-of-the-box thinking, which generates new ideas, services and products.
  • Differentiates them from their competitors and helps capture new clients
  • Attracts and retains top talent

But are they walking the talk?

When asked about their current diversity and inclusion priorities, the survey revealed that “43% cited retention and development of talent, followed by ensuring diversity in the workplace in general (35%), developing a robust pipeline of diverse talent (29%), and managing cross-generational issues (28%).”

The report also cites a case study involving global toymaker, Mattel. When the company launched a line of dolls that would be marketed to African-American girls, it invited members of its African-American Resource Group to offer guidance to the company’s marketing team through product launch. They suggested names for the line and the dolls’ appearance, and even helped name them to ensure the company was being culturally sensitive. Today, these dolls are among Mattel’s best-selling, minority-focused brands.

Expanded Thoughts, Better Decisions

By supporting a wide range of employees – some who may be disabled or represent different ages, genders, or ethnic, cultural or religious backgrounds – companies can expand their client base and enter new domestic or global markets more confidently, more efficiently, more successfully.

Collectively, diverse employees help organizations “make better decisions and complete tasks more successfully because it triggers more careful and creative information processing than (what) typically occurs in homogeneous groups,” states an article – Diversity’s new frontier – published by Deloitte, a global consulting firm.

The article mentions other key benefits. Diversity of thought introduces new insights, “bringing the diversity of human thinking to bear on challenging problems”.   Given recent advances in neuroscience, it adds that, “. . . Matching people to specific jobs based on more rigorous cognitive analysis is within reach. Organizations that can operationalize faster ideation can begin to purposely align individuals to certain teams and jobs simply because of the way they think.”

The time to shake up traditional work cultures is long overdue. Help build organizations, departments or teams by selecting candidates with different backgrounds and thinking styles. Their unique strengths and experiences will lead to new insights, improved business practices, and a bigger bottom line.