New study reveals the benefits of workplace diversity in the tech sector

[dropcap type=”default”]S[/dropcap]AP and Oxford Economics today released new research findings at the Tech Inclusion 2016 Conference, revealing executives of U.S. companies that have transformed their business to succeed in the digital economy are more likely to see the cultural value and positive financial impact that a diverse workforce has on their business.

Analysis of U.S. companies in the Leaders 2020 study affirms the business benefits of diversity, showing a correlation between those who are leading in digital transformation and those who have a heightened understanding of the importance of diversity. Leaders 2020 is a survey of 4,100 executives and employees across 21 countries, conducted by Oxford Economics and SAP.


The study finds that nearly half of executives at U.S. companies who are digital leaders have a positive view of diversity’s impact:

  • 49% of executives believe diversity has a positive impact on the company’s culture
  • 44% percent recognise diversity’s positive impact on financial performance

Among U.S. companies that lack the technology, processes or workforce required to be a fully digital business, there is greater scepticism about the benefits of diversity:

  • 42% of executives and 43% of employees believe their companies have effective diversity programs in place
  • 24% of executives expect an increase in the number of diverse senior leaders in the coming years
  • 39% say it has had a positive influence on culture
  • 34% say it has had a positive impact on financial performance

“Diversity is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ for companies,” said Jewell Parkinson, head of human resources, SAP North America. “This study is evidence of the correlation between organisations that embrace diversity and have better performance because they attract better talent, generate greater employee satisfaction and build stronger unity in problem solving and innovation. And in today’s hyper-competitive digital era, where customer expectations are heightened, organisations need to take steps to embrace diversity in all of its forms or be quickly left behind.”

The U.S. results paint of picture of digital transformation in its early stages. Only 12% of American companies report being a leader in digital transformation, compared to 16% globally.

The Blueprint

In order for companies to improve their preparation for digital transformation, the SAP and Oxford Economics research recommends taking steps to adopt the following five best practices:

  • Emphasize diversity. Companies that cultivate a diverse workforce and take a broad range of employee perspectives into account are better poised to succeed in a global economy — and to keep employees happy and engaged.
  • Listen to young executives. The growing cohort of millennial executives has a strong vision for leadership in the digital economy. Taking their advice may be a shortcut to digital transformation.
  • Communicate a company-wide digital vision. The best leaders not only have a strategy for going digital — they are sharing it with employees across the organization.
  • Continuously update executive and employee skill sets. Everyone, from the ground floor to the executive suite, needs digital skills and the ability to learn new ones quickly.
  • Flatten the organization. Leadership needs to empower managers and workers across the enterprise to make decisions quickly, without bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Please visit the Leaders 2020 website for more U.S. and global research results and guidance on digital transformation.