Preserving Diversity Efforts Amid Pandemic Can Bring Rewards

Building a diverse workforce and recruiting more women during the pandemic could help plumbing manufacturers enhance their performance. New research shows that companies maintaining their diversity and inclusion efforts now will be rewarded later with new levels of resilience, revitalization and inspiration – all necessary to recover from the economic and operational challenges caused by COVID-19.

PMI members, such as Viega, have recognized the benefits of promoting a diverse workforce and hiring more women. Viega recently highlighted its efforts in a series of blog articles, one of which features Kim Smith, supervisor of the molding department of Viega’s plant in McPherson, Kan., and another featuring Tricia Musgrave, Viega’s director of technical marketing.

Smith said Viega focuses on training and promoting workers into positions of greater responsibility and noted that as a woman, she has felt supported throughout her career there. Musgrave noted that Viega has similar values as her – appreciating the value of hard work and understanding the importance of helping others.

Skills to drive innovation, strong performance

Which skills and strengths will help companies successfully perform during and after the pandemic? Enhanced problem-solving skills and agility are more important than ever as businesses respond to challenges brought on by COVID-19 – from disrupted supply chains to new customer product needs and more employees working from home. These skills will be stronger in companies that embrace diversity, according to a recent article from McKinsey and Company titled “Diversity Still Matters.”

Other critical areas for strong company performance during and after the pandemic are the ability to keep top talent, improve decision making, boost customer insight and innovation, and sustain employee motivation and job satisfaction. McKinsey’s article stated that businesses keeping their commitment to diversity and inclusion can make significant progress in these areas, ultimately resulting in stronger business performance. For example, bringing workers together with varying perspectives increases the chances that more creative solutions will emerge.

A study from Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues because of innovation. This is particularly crucial for industries, such as plumbing manufacturing, where innovation stimulates growth.

McKinsey’s latest report, “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” reinforces the business case showing that diversity, inclusion and performance are interwoven. It discusses how research proves that diverse companies are more likely to outperform their industry peers.

Women help companies shine during crises

Past crises have proven the important part diversity plays in recovery, according to McKinsey. For example, during the 2008–09 global financial crisis, banks with more women on their boards were more stable than their peers – and less vulnerable in a crisis. Cities and countries with women leaders are seen to be more successfully dealing with the pandemic. In addition, McKinsey noted findings that companies with more women were more likely to launch new innovations.

Other McKinsey studies revealed that women are more apt than men to demonstrate five of the nine types of leadership behavior that boost organizational performance, such as talent development. Women more often apply three of the four types of behavior – inspiration, intellectual stimulation and participative decision making – that most successfully address the global challenges of the future.

In the end, focusing on diversity and hiring more women is a strong business strategy any time, but particularly as COVID-19 continues posing a myriad of business challenges. Companies maintaining their diversity programs now can be rewarded with stronger innovation, agility and decision-making skills that lead to future growth.