There are no guaranteed investments… except this one

There are no guaranteed investments… except this one

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you | Contributors: Mark Fraser, Chair of the Board | Published: April 1, 2018

Diversity is good business, it pays

All businesses need to make periodic, if not continuous investment in their operations in order to sustain or grow. In this issue of Business Voice, there are stories about how businesses in Nova Scotia are investing — from reimagining the future of a province that is accessible, to taking advantage of the untapped opportunities that the ocean sector may provide, or to simply supporting one another as members of a community.

There are many ways that business in our region can make investments with the intention that a return will follow. Sometimes it is in research and development related to new product. With other businesses it is an investment in a physical space, through new facilities or equipment. And with others, it is investment in people — new and diverse talent that can create value for both customers and shareholders through capability, ingenuity and good old-fashioned service.

It’s the latter that holds the most significant and immediate opportunity for our region.

Diversity represents an unrealized opportunity for businesses in Halifax. I am fond of saying, “Diversity always wins” and I am not the only one that believes this.

In 2015, a report by McKinsey ( investigated more than 350 publicly traded companies and found that companies that led in gender, ethnic and racial diversity outperformed their industry peers by up to 35 per cent.

But it’s not just the outcome that improves, there is science that proves that how you get to the outcome is also dramatically different. In a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (www.journals., Katherine Phillips of Northwestern University shows that diverse teams consider facts more carefully, leading to less errors and more corrected errors when they were made.

A barrier to embracing diversity is the discomfort that comes from newcomers (whether they are gender, ethnic or racially diverse) who are joining already established teams. In the Harvard Business Review ( David Rock concludes that diverse teams function at a higher level, not in spite of this discomfort, but because of this discomfort. Teams that are more “comfortable” make decisions that are “easier,” which often come with a productivity or effectiveness cost. Highlighting differences in teams and embracing the initial discomfort that may come with that, will deliver better results.

Chamber member Sarah Young from National Public Relations recently pointed out some obvious benefits of gender diversity in business and governance ( that remains absent from many companies in our region. “Trust, co-creation, diversity and empowerment are now driving forces behind successful organizations and strong leaders. And it just so happens that these are skills and attributes that many women possess.”


There are few investment options that can deliver productivity and performance boosts with such certainty and effectiveness. We have work to do when it comes to gender, ethnic and racial diversity in leadership and creating the teams within our businesses. But this means the opportunity in front us is dramatic.

Invest in diversity. It is a sure thing

Thank You!

This column signals the end of my tenure as Chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. It is amazing how quickly a year can go by — and what a year.

We are coming to the end of our current 2013 - 2018 strategic plan and will be launching a new one later this year. The Halifax Convention Centre opened and the streets surrounding it have been transformed. Many members were thrilled to be winning proponents in the Ocean Supercluster initiative and the launch of the Innovation District has shone an even brighter light on the amazing work being done in this city. The Halifax Business Awards saw our largest crowd ever and we need a new room for the State of the City address by Mayor Savage — we sold out that event. Member retention is near 90 per cent (well above average among our large city peers) and member satisfaction is up.

The Board and Membership are in good hands with Incoming Chair, Cynthia Dorrington, who will be sworn in at our AGM on April 18, 2018. We hope to see you there, as well as at the Spring Dinner in May where members that don’t know Cynthia will get to meet her. We are not without challenge, but it was a good year. And it was a pleasure to have a front row seat for it.

Thank you.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

Stay Connected

Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter and receive important updates on Halifax Chamber events, Member benefits and advocacy news.

Travel to Costa Rica!