A new national survey finds that a majority of senior business executives — across the political spectrum — say diversity initiatives are essential to positive business performance. The results of this survey, conducted by Morning Consult for the Institute for Public Private Strategies, contradict many of the recent headlines criticizing diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI.
Ying McGuire is president and CEO of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, one of the business organizations that sent a letter to Fortune 500 CEOs citing the survey as evidence of work on supplier and business diversity. McGuire spoke with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio, and below is an edited transcript of their conversation.
David Brancaccio: Some high-profile people, including activist investor Bill Ackman of Tesla and X chief Elon Musk, have been vocal that diversity campaigns are bad for society and business. Now you have a wider range of business inquiries. What do these leaders tell you?
Ying McGuire: 82% of senior executives we heard from the survey are considering diversity initiatives – they are critical to their business strategies. So the result of the survey I am talking about the facts is really promising and not what we expected based on what we read in the headlines.
Brancaccio: So I mean businesses that are trying to reduce the risk of discrimination in their culture or systems. It can be driven by a moral imperative—it’s the right thing to do. But you also hear about the business case, which can actually help the bottom line.
McGuire: It is completely businesslike. In my case, we focus on integrating different businesses into the corporate supply chain, we have better business results.
Brancaccio: And let people fully understand supply diversity: it’s a choice companies have when deciding who to do business with.
McGuire: Absolutely true. It: Give everyone, every entrepreneur, an equal opportunity to compete. This is not a distribution. And because of that, they’re really great reasons to buy from a variety of suppliers so that you can improve the competitiveness and sustainability of your supply chain.
Brancaccio: I want to ask if this still traditionally breaks the partisan line. CEO A is conservative, not into diversity, equity, and inclusion. CEO B: liberal, that’s what they’re all for? Or is that not what you found?
McGuire: The survey found strong support across ideological and political beliefs. In fact, 75% of executives who describe themselves as politically conservative say diversity initiatives are important to their business strategies. And this directly contradicts the claims of some who say that diversity is an inherently partisan issue. And McKinsey did a study; they found that ethnically and culturally diverse firms outperformed their competitors by 36% in terms of profitability. It just goes to show that it’s not about politics. Diversity is simply good business.
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