Ethnic diversity - unlocking potential digital transformation


Whilst digital transformation was changing our markets and customer experiences pre-pandemic, the Covid crisis accelerated the desire to reduce operating expenses and improve efficiency. Our collective awareness of the need to improve diversity and inclusivity in leadership teams across our businesses and organisations was also shifting pre-pandemic. If there has been an acceleration in changing the way that we work, then it stands to reason that our efforts to improve diversity must also shift at the same rate. Whilst this is relevant in all historically underrepresented groups, for the purposes of this blog we will be looking at ethnic diversity and its relationship to unlocking our potential for business digital transformation.

The relationship between diversity and digital transformation

We know that digital transformation can improve business processes and customer experience as well as streamline operations and drive-up efficiency. There is also a wealth of data that shows businesses with a diverse leadership team outperform others. Challenges within businesses require a team that is skilled in problem-solving. Individuals from different backgrounds and experiences can bring different perspectives to the same problem. We know that logically it has always made sense that different ways of thinking will increase the odds of finding a solution. Now more than ever with the pace of global markets and digital transformation accelerating, the ability of our leadership teams to respond quickly to challenges and problems is critical.

It is therefore evident that successful digital transformation and increased diversity in leadership teams go together.

Ethic minority lead firms in the UK

In 2020 Aston University in Birmingham carried out research in ethnic minority entrepreneurship. The report focused on SMEs and ethnic minority business owners and whether they were more or less likely to be involved in innovation than other businesses. The report showed a very clear trend that “ethnic minority lead firms engage both process and product/service innovation on average more often than non-ethnic minority businesses”. This innovation it reports ranged from the creation of new markets to the development of new products and the introduction of process innovation. The results showed the following percentages of process innovation:

  • 21% of ethnic minority businesses (EMBs) introduced process innovation
  • 30% reported product or service innovation
  • 15% of non-EMBs introduced process innovation
  • 19% of non-EMBs reported product of service innovation

Source: Aston University Birmingham

It is evident therefore that digital transformation, innovation, and diversity are inextricably intertwined. This means businesses that are offering digital consultancy need to ensure their leadership teams are ethnically diverse. If digital transformation offers an injection of pace to companies’ efforts to innovate, then it stands to reason that increasing ethnic diversity within these organisations offers a huge advantage.

Changing the boardroom in digital transformation requires diversity targets, strategies, data, and metrics. If changes are needed in leadership teams, then their recruitment process must prioritise facts and data over opinion and bias.In-depth analytics and diversity data are needed before starting the recruitment process as well as during and post search. This evidence-based strategy is the starting point to changing leadership teams and unlocking the potential for businesses and digital transformation.