Harnessing diversity for global business performance

This briefing paper introduces the 2011–12 ACCA–ESRC roundtables about harnessing diversity in business with some short examples of how diversity, or the lack of it, affects sustainable business growth.


The ACCA–ESRC expert panels form a prestigious, international network of experts engaging in informed, forward-thinking, challenging debate about harnessing diversity in business.

Three roundtable meetings for these expert panels are being held:

• Delhi (November 2011)

• Shanghai (December 2011) 

• London (January 2012).

The aim of the roundtables is to encourage lively discussion about how to harness the ‘constructive conflict’ that diversity can generate in order to improve business performance and address economic, social and environmental challenges ahead.

Each roundtable will consider ways in which organisations can harness diversity to innovate, taking into consideration current challenges and opportunities posed by difference.

Each expert panel will be asked to consider a number of general points: 

  • What opportunities does diversity present for business organisations and the wider economy and what will be the main trends over the next five years?
  • What will organisations need to do to harness diversity now and in the future?
  • How do approaches differ between countries/regions and can we learn from each other?
  • What are the ways that collaboration and partnership can be developed and sustained to help organisations take advantage of these opportunities and meet these challenges?

The paper introduces the roundtables with some short examples of how diversity, or the lack of it, affects five pillars of sustainable business growth:

  • new talent 
  • new markets
  • innovation 
  • effective organisational structures, and 
  • leadership capability.