Diversity Matters in Business: Policy, People, and the Power to Innovate

Business people meeting amidst charts and graphs

Diversity in education matters, and it plays an important role in Pearson’s mission of helping people make more of their lives through learning. Our differences give us unique perspectives that can enrich our learning, work, and lives. This blog post is part of our Diversity Matters series exploring different perspectives on why diversity matters in education. For more commentary and resources on the importance of diversity, visit our Diversity and Access website.

 

 

To both individuals and to businesses, the idea of diversity can be ambiguous, impractical, even daunting. But as we seek information and the perspectives of others, we can gain clarity and build our understanding. Allow me to offer my perspective and the expertise of a colleague well versed on this topic and who can help us understand the compelling reasons businesses embrace diversity.

For me as a former “Army brat,” diversity was a part of my personal landscape from an early age. Spending my first few elementary school years on a military base in the interior of Alaska, my first, second, and third grade classes were a rainbow of races, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds. Play dates with classmates exposed me to a symphony of languages and accents. Diversity was my “normal.” But then in fourth grade it all changed.

After my father completed his tour, we moved back to our native southern Indiana. When I walked into my fourth grade classroom on the first day of school, I wasn’t prepared for what would become my educational landscape until I graduated from high school. Everyone looked just like me. The vibrant rainbow of different races and ethnicities of my previous school was replaced by mildly varying shades of peach. And the voices of my classmates and their families echoed back the same soft, slight southern Indiana accent.  At a young age, I experienced diversity, and I felt it when it was gone. Even into adulthood, I was impacted by this.

Human Rights Campaign Award

Human Rights Campaign Award

As an adult, I’ve grown to realize that there are more kinds of diversity than the languages we speak and the colors of our skin, and I’ve experienced diversity in much more nuanced ways. Generally, I understand the benefits that diversity in the environments where we learn, work, and live can yield. And when my company was honored last year with an award from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, I was proud (as evidenced by the photo of the award that I couldn’t resist taking and sharing on my personal Instagram account). But it raised a question that I didn’t feel I could answer: What are the compelling business reasons for companies to take diversity seriously?

Thankfully, I knew of someone who could answer that question. I turned to Kendra Thomas, Pearson’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Americas, who was happy to talk about the numerous ways that a commitment to diversity can pay off for employers, from producing a happier, more productive workforce to tapping into a rich source of innovative thinking. And best of all, she was willing to let me film it. Watch below as Kendra shares why diversity is good for business and some concrete actions that employers of any size can take to foster a more diverse workplace.