The Hidden Diversity Accelerator

You may be aware that organizations in the top quartile for management diversity outperform their industry mean by 35%*.  Did you realize that diverse leaders are also more likely to build an environment of inclusion and belonging?  In a world of mixed office and remote working, of volatility, uncertainty, and ambiguity, having good enough leaders will not be good enough.  The great leaders we need may also be the diverse leaders we need.

In the 100+ interviews conducted for the Hedley May Belonging Project we were given numerous examples of the usual good leadership traits around purpose, engagement and alignment to strategy.  But what we noticed was that the diverse leaders did not stop there in building a strong culture.  They looked beyond these traditional qualities.  It was these findings about great leadership that particularly struck us.

We found:

  • Diverse leaders were more than twice as likely to include a broad range of criteria in their definition of leadership, including getting to know their colleagues’ interests, personalities, and ambitions to create an inclusive environment and encourage broad contribution. This was in addition to, not at the expense of, driving accountability and business awareness.
  • They more frequently referenced the responsibility they felt in instilling a sense of Belonging within their team. They talked about “embracing the diversity”, valuing others for their differences and encouraging their reports to be their authentic selves.  Diverse leaders spoke more frequently of creating a culture of inclusive decision-making and of reducing hierarchy.
  • A diverse leader was more likely to feel responsible for driving the diversity and inclusion agenda and to take a proactive role in developing and hiring diverse talent. They more frequently questioned their own bias and ensured appropriate checks and balances for their decision-making.

By bringing diversity into your leadership cohort you will encourage a more inclusive environment, leading to a stronger sense of Belonging.  Individuals are more likely to believe that they can bring their full selves to work if there is no “ideal mold” they must fit.  This belief is forged by their leaders.

At Hedley May, we continue to make a deliberate effort to find candidates across all measures of diversity.  We believe that they add something to an organization that reaches beyond financial metrics.  It is exciting to see that our Belonging research bears this theory out.

Diversity generates diversity.

* A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.

The Belonging Project

We launched the Belonging Project, conducting over 100 interviews globally with a diverse range of people. Our research reaffirmed our core belief: organizations that create a strong sense of Belonging are more successful – in business, employee satisfaction and longevity. Belonging is the proven cornerstone of success.


When we founded Hedley May, we made a commitment to make a positive impact on our broader communities. We focus on providing opportunity to the underserved through mentorship, internships, workshops and other career development initiatives. We are also dedicated advocates and supporters of numerous social mobility programs.