The first reason why diversity adds value to an organization is that no one is free from their biases. Our thoughts and perspectives are defined by what we inherit from our parents and what we experience. On the other hand, there is no room for bias when we pursue truth. So for us to make the right decisions collectively — be it a political opinion or an idea for innovation–we need diversity.
On top of that, some societies unfairly treat some groups of people, e.g., women, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, and so on. Diversity could be the way to unleash their full potential.
So diversity is a nice thing. Furthermore, as a minority, I feel awkward when surrounded by homogenous people (unfortunately, that’s often the case in Japan). So even from my preference perspective, diversity is the one for me.
That said, I think many people don’t understand an investment aspect of diversity. It is an investment because you pay for it initially and get the return later.
First, whenever you try to improve diversity within your organization, you will almost encounter backlash from some of your colleagues, often the ones from the majority group. You need to persuade these opponents, and it takes time or consumes your political capital as a leader.
Then the second price follows, which is a cacophony within the organization. As I wrote, we are all biased and believe in different things, and thus diversity often entails serious confrontations and conflicts. It took five years for me to be on the same page with my cofounders. After recruiting many people from various countries in an expansion phase, my company entered a few years of internal disputes (finally, it started to subside!).
The price is not that low, especially for startups that need to solve many problems to survive. As a result, many organizations give up pursuing internal diversity after facing the initial cost of it.
I think it’s important to promote diversity not as a benefit but as an investment. You need to spend resources in the beginning and bear with it. Then you’ll get something great later.