07 Apr 2017 19:00 IST

Diversity is good business

From workplace to the market, multiplicity makes a positive impact

There is no denying the correctness of the UP government shutting down illegal slaughterhouses, or those flouting norms. At the same time, as the High Court indicated earlier this week, immediate measures should be taken to issue new licenses and reopen slaughterhouses. The Court gave the State 10 days to draw a plan that ensures the livelihood of those working in the industry, and the supply of meat to its consumers.

“Various food habits had flourished in Uttar Pradesh and these were an essential part of the State’s secular culture,” the High Court noted.

Number crunch

Take a look at the numbers. Reports say that 140 slaughterhouses and over 5,000 meat shops in UP don’t have permission to be in business. Reopening them is important not just for secular reasons, but also for economic. Overall, the industry provides employment to over 25 lakh people, and meat exports account for nearly ₹27,000 crore a year. UP is the country’s biggest exporter of meat.

There are 38 official slaughterhouses in the State. And by the way, in many of these, Hindus make up for a large chunk of the employees, if not the majority.

That is a big yes for why diversity, right from office rooms and schools to demographics and market, makes good business sense.

Economic benefits

A country as diverse like ours benefits enormously from having people with different tastes, habits, cultures, food, and beliefs. Here are a few examples.

Spiritual market: India’s spiritual market, a report in a daily said, is worth $30 billion a year. After all, India’s 1.2 billion people follow over 300 million gods and goddesses. Hordes of start-ups have mushroomed in the sector, offering everything from delivery of prasad from your favourite temple to selling customised kits with products related to Islamic pilgrimages, Hajj and Umrah.

Modest clothing: In clothing, India is one of the biggest markets for modest clothing. Globally, Muslim consumers spend $230 billion a year on clothing, according to the State of the Global Islamic Economy Report. India, with the second largest Muslim population in the world, makes up a large share of this market.

Traditional cooking: A recent story in BusinessLine celebrated the emergence of home cooks, and how they were instrumental in keeping the traditional cuisine alive.

Their USP is the uniqueness of their cooking and the ingredients they source from the place of origin. Imagine the loss if divisive politics forces us to stop eating a delicacy from a particular region. Recently, there were reports of some outfits asking Bengalis to shun eating fish in the name of vegetarianism!

Diverse successes

All over the world now, diversity is seen as a good practise to increase productivity, brand equity, and create a positive work environment. Some of the most successful, or biggest companies in the US, including Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, have more non-whites in leadership roles than their peers.

A 2015 McKinsey report on diversity said that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. The result was similar for companies with higher gender diversity as well.

There are many more benefits of living in a diverse society. But instead of enriching ourselves from it, some of the recent events indicate that we are getting divided or isolated. It surely doesn’t pay — neither for the secular fabric nor for our pockets.