2016 is already looking good, as diversity makes its way into the mainstream. With more models of color working than ever, from the runway to international beauty campaigns, and Christian Louboutin’s recognition of the broad definition of “nude”, the faces of fashion are becoming more widely representative of our cultural landscape, but what goes on behind the scenes?
Athletics giant Nike continues to raise the bar, beating its own record sales each year. Recently labeled by Forbes as the most valuable brand in the apparel category, worth $27.5 billion, the company not only excels at the bank, but its sustainability and workforce practices set them apart from the rest as well.
Fortune recently covered a report released by the company which stated that, for the first time since its inception, the majority of Nike workers employed in the United States identify ethnically as non-white. White employees still make up the largest group at 48%, however, 51% of Nike’s U.S. workforce identify otherwise, with 21% African-American, 18% Latino, 7% Asian, 4% two or more races, and 1% Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Additionally, the company reported a 60% growth measured in non-white employees assuming roles in a leadership or management position.
Gender equality is still an area in which Nike could step up their game, with men outweighing women in managerial positions, 59-41. The company is working to make strides, however, and has very recently updated their paid leave policy for everyone, with new birth mothers now allowed 14 weeks of maternity leave, as opposed to six. New dads and adoptive parents are also awarded eight weeks of paid leave, as opposed to none, which was formerly their policy.
While their more progressive views on race and gender cannot take all the credit for Nike’s success, many believe it may have an influence. Research firm McKinsey reported last year that companies with diverse workforces did tend to perform better financially, 35% better to be exact, when comparing the links between diversity and economic success. “More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.
This suggests that other kinds of diversity—for example, in age, sexual orientation, and experience (such as a global mindset and cultural fluency)—are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage for companies that can attract and retain such diverse talent,” the report states.
The numbers go to show that diversity in the workforce not only translates to more identification among consumers but also in maintaining the satisfaction of their teams, all of which amount to more dollars in the bank, for everyone.