Importance of Diversity in Leadership

Now more than ever, companies are taking a good hard look at their leadership teams and evaluating them on a different criterion. It’s no longer simply a matter of being educated or experienced. The evolution of the marketplace dictates a corresponding evolution in corporate leadership, which has executives asking themselves, “Is our company diverse enough?” More specifically, they want to know if they have enough diversity in leadership roles.

Diverse team working together.

Not all managers are created equal, but the great ones always have those key qualities that make them effective leaders. They are highly proficient communicators, critical thinkers, adept at decision-making and problem-solving, and highly efficient when it comes to running a team.

Some of these skills are learned in management courses, while others come naturally. Viewing management decisions through a diverse lens, however, is a capability that is more difficult to develop, and one that may be easier for companies to adopt when leadership teams are diverse. Here we will examine the importance of diversity in leadership and the educational path that should be considered to pursue a leadership role, such as earning a master’s degree in management and leadership.

What Is Workplace Diversity?

Before we can discuss the importance of diversity, we must first define it. In a company, diversity means having individuals from different backgrounds make up its workforce. The big categories are gender, race, and age, but the concept of diversity has now expanded to include religion, sexual orientation, economic background, political leanings, and so forth.

It’s also important to note that diversity isn’t just about how an individual identifies. Diversity also means having a company mentality that is accepting of those who are different and willing to promote their voices. To see the full benefits of workplace diversity, a company must make inclusion a definitive part of its culture. This applies to leadership roles just as much as it does to entry- and mid-level positions.

There is some work to do regarding diversity in leadership. As reported by Fortune in 2020, only 37 and four Fortune 500 companies are run by female and Black CEOs, respectively.

Here is a breakdown of the percentage of all management positions held by diverse professionals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

  • Women: 40%
  • Hispanic: 11%
  • Black: 8%
  • Asian: 6%

What Are the Benefits of Diversity in Leadership?

Although not all of the benefits of diversity in leadership are measurable or tangible, that doesn’t make them any less impactful on a company. The following examples are some of the ways in which diverse management improves the internal processes and promotes a more robust corporate profile.

Innovative Thinking

Diversity in leadership means diversity in thought. For example, a management team of 10 individuals all hailing from different backgrounds has a higher likelihood of developing ideas that cover a broader spectrum. This is compared to a management team composed of one category of person (same age demographic, race, background, etc.).

Diversity equates to different trains of thought and access to a different set of cultural and personal experiences. This is also known as “outside-the-box thinking.” A diverse workforce and management team ensures that a company doesn’t get boxed into a single lane of thinking.

Wider Range of Skill Sets

Some skills are taught, while others are completely cultural. When diverse management team members are hired, a company acquires different skill sets, knowledge, and backgrounds. For instance, younger generations are generally more knowledgeable about new technologies and social media. If a company’s goal is to improve its social media metrics, perhaps it would be in its best interests to hire someone who grew up using social media, as opposed to someone who has never adopted it due to a generational disconnect.

Advanced Company Culture

Another benefit of diversity in leadership is that it fosters better relationships with employees. Most employees feel a more meaningful kinship with their company if they see themselves represented in leadership. This not only communicates that management is accepting of other cultures and backgrounds, but that there’s an opportunity to move up in the company.

The result is that employees feel more included, and therefore less likely to look for another job with a different culture. This also helps with recruiting new employees who are often concerned about whether they will fit in.

Better Company Profile

A company’s leadership reflects the company itself. So, what does it say when a company makes a point to put a diverse mixture of individuals in leadership positions?

First of all, it lets people know that the company values inclusivity and different viewpoints. It also lets the world know that the company is ready to serve a wide range of consumers. Successful companies that operate on an international scale know that internal diversity is critical when doing business with a diverse customer base. Just as employees value seeing themselves represented in leadership roles, so too does the customer. Diversity facilitates a company’s ability to connect with the outside world, which leads to more opportunities.

Benefits of Leadership Training

By now, the importance of diversity in leadership roles should be clear, as well as how diversity can vastly improve a company’s internal operations. Individuals who see the value of diversity in management, and believe they have the qualities to be an effective leader, should consider pursuing a degree in the field.

An online Master of Arts in Management and Leadership is a great option. Through the coursework, a student will develop the necessary skills and learn valuable concepts for becoming an effective manager. A strong foundation in business will be established with a focus on further developing essential managerial skills such as communication, team building, problem-solving, and critical thinking, just to name a few.

This type of educational training prepares aspiring leaders to make an immediate positive impact in their managerial role while also fostering a mentality that promotes company diversity.

Earn Your Degree in Management and Leadership

An online Master of Arts in Management and Leadership from Maryville University can prepare you to be an effective manager in numerous fields, ranging from advertising and marketing to IT and public relations. Core coursework includes Business Ethics, Information Technology Management, Accounting for Managers, and Leadership classes. In addition, you can choose from eight unique concentrations: Cybersecurity, Health Administration, Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Marketing, Project Management, Software Development, and Business Data Analytics.

If you aspire to lead a team that values diversity and ingenuity, there’s no better time to get started. The program at Maryville University uses practical, real-world learning opportunities to ensure you are more than ready to meet the challenges of the modern business world.

Let Maryville University help you be brave in realizing your career goals.

Recommended Reading

Careers in Management and Leadership: Moving Business Forward

Ethical Leadership in Business: Why It Matters

Organizational Development Guide: Definition, Process & Development Models


CNN, “After years of talking about diversity, the number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal”

Dynamic Signal, “Why Workplace Diversity is Important”

Forbes, “The Benefits of Creating a Diverse Workforce”

Fortune, “The Number of Female CEOs in the Fortune 500 Hits an All-Time Record”

Fortune, “There Are Now Just 4 Black CEOs in the Fortune 500 as Tapestry Boss Resigns”

Insights, “A Case for Leadership Diversity”

Ladders, “The Value of Diversity in Leadership Roles”

SCORE, “10 Business Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

World Economic Forum, “The Business Case for Diversity in the Workplace is Now Overwhelming”

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