Why Diversity and Equality Should Go Hand in Hand

Equality is one of those concepts that sounds simple (and should be simple), but in reality is quite complex. The same goes for diversity. And the real trick is not in achieving one or the other, but both.

It's much easier to achieve equality without diversity - as our own Declaration of Independence holds it to be self-evident that "all men are created equal." Equality among men is one thing, equality for both genders is a much harder thing to achieve. It's also easier when the term "men" doesn't apply to males of all races and ethnicities. Similarly, embracing diversity is easier if you don't believe that you have to give everybody equal opportunities and protections.

In today's world we simply can't afford to have partial equality or unequal diversity: we need both.

There are business reasons, as well as moral ones, to assure that women and men have equal opportunities to contribute in the workplace. And at Pax World that's something we think has value for investors as well.

Gender equality--assuring that men and women have equal access to work and advancement, capital, and pay for comparable work--is a key ingredient in channeling human talent in the workforce.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) points this out by illuminating the relationships between gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and gender gaps, human development and global competitiveness. These correlations, says WEF, are consistent with the idea that "empowering women means a more efficient use of a nation's human capital endowment and that reducing gender inequality enhances productivity and economic growth."

UN Women supports this view, noting that "when more women work, economies grow." The US Agency for Economic Development (USAID) also picks up this theme, noting that "eliminating workplace discrimination against women can increase productivity," and "facilitating women's entrepreneurship benefits economic development." The International Monetary Fund maintains that "closing gender gaps benefits countries as a whole, not just women and girls."

On the corporate side, numerous studies--from Credit Suisse, the Peterson Institute, and Gallup, among others--bring the benefits of diversity and women's empowerment into more focus for business, noting that companies with more women in leadership positions tend to do better financially, and that business units that are more gender-diverse have better financial outcomes.

Moreover, research shows that diverse groups tend to be smarter and make better decisions than homogeneous ones. Scientific American notes that "being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent and harder-working," because interacting with others who are different makes us prepare better and work harder to achieve consensus among people with different viewpoints. And research from the Kellogg School of Management confirmed that diverse groups process information more carefully than homogeneous groups, producing better group performance.

I like facts. I sometimes get mad at them when they make me change my opinions, but I particularly like them when they form a cheering section for something I believe in anyway. In this case, the facts solidly support the economic benefits of a world in which we embrace diversity in ways that give people in all their endless variety true equality of opportunity. I have one daughter, and one transgender son. I want them to have a world in which they don't have to be better than their peers in order to have the same opportunities.