How To Make The Business Case For Diversity


For its sixth culture design workshop, Culture Labx invited Lisa Lee, Diversity Lead at Pandora to speak. She illustrated why diversity is instrumental to Pandora, and how to make the business case for diversity at your own workplace.

In her first month at Pandora as Diversity Lead, Lisa Lee went on a “listening tour”, asking questions across departments about what made Pandora special. Lisa learned that these three values are key to Pandora:

· Community
· Innovation
· Personalization

Pandora was built with each of these pillars in mind, and for each, diversity is essential.


Pandora as a business is made out of multiple parts: stakeholders, industry partners, advertisers, and listeners. It’s a business that exists not on its own, but within an ecosystem. Without this ecosystem, this community, Pandora cannot survive.

And the community is fast changing. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2043, no group will make up a majority. In order for Pandora to know its audience, it must reflect that audience.


Creativity and innovation thrive when there is cognitive diversity. By bringing on different modes of thinking, an entity’s ability to creatively solve problems is increased. Pandora is in the business of innovation, so having a team of diverse players is a must.


Co-Founder Tim Westergren tells an anecdote about an eager Pandora user at a Town Hall Meeting who went on and on about how much he loved marching band music – after about five minutes, Tim realized that the man thought that Pandora played exclusively marching band tunes. To Tim, this was fantastic, because it meant that Pandora was doing its job of feeling truly personalized to its users.

In order to create true personalization, one must have true understanding. By bringing together different kinds of employees who own different views and modes of thought, Pandora is actively engaging empathy. This goes a long way in understanding its users and bettering the experience for them.

Making The Business Case for Diversity At Your Workplace

When it comes to views on diversity at the workplace, there are two camps:
Moralists, those who believe that morally, creating a diverse environment is the right thing to do, and capitalists, those who are swayed by business reasons, like not wanting to miss out on potential revenue

When pitching a diversity initiative, gauge which approach will have the most appeal to your audience. Diversity speaks to people in various ways, and for Lisa, figuring out how to reach someone, and finding that moment when the importance of diversity clicks in one’s mind is part of what makes her job so exciting.

For The Moralists

Members of the first camp will already have diversity as an inherent value in their belief system. You may just need to activate it in a business context. Use examples of other companies (like Pandora) implementing successful diversity initiatives, and lay out the concepts of why diversity is not only “right”, but also beneficial. Until you understand your audience well, you can’t serve them well, and in order to understand a diverse audience, you must reflect that diversity in the company that you keep.

For The Capitalists

For the second camp, this all might sound like fluff until they are shown numbers. Lisa recommends making friends in strategic departments to get a hold of figures that back up your ideas. To prepare her pitch, she went to Employee Experience, Listener Insights, Sales Research, and Multicultural Sales. She obtained figures regarding the number of current listeners and potential listeners, the buying power of communities of color, and the growth potential of diverse untapped markets.

For Everyone

If neither of these approaches stick, bring it back to why diversity programs exist in the first place: historically we have had structures in place that have eliminated opportunities for those who are currently under-represented. Just because society is making progress in breaking down those structures, doesn’t mean that suddenly everyone has the same advantages. We need to actively and consciously diversify our workforce, and by doing so, we are strengthening our companies.