This article originally appeared in Austin Business Journal

Gender and racial diversity remain pressing topics in human resources. New York City money management firm State Street Global Advisors this week placed a statue of a little girl in front of the iconic Wall Street bronze bull as part of a call for more women on corporate boards.

Of the thousands of companies on the Russell 3000 index, one out of four don’t have a single woman on their boards, according to State Street Global.

Corporations know their efforts to boost diversity will be closely watched. Examples at Bank of America Corp. include employee engagement networks for LGBT and black professionals, said Nikki Graham, Austin market president.

“We need to reflect what our customers’ needs [are] and so often that diversity is brought into the decision making,” she said.

For this month’s “In the Office” series, Austin Business Journal is examining how different pieces of the workplace diversity equation are playing out across the region.

So why are companies interested in boosting the diversity of their workforces? Aside from a moral and social imperative, it can help recruiting efforts, as millennials highly value inclusive workplaces.

Diversity can also play a crucial role in the financial decision-making process. Companies with a significant number of women in leadership have generated net returns on investment of 4.6 percent so far in 2017, closely trailing the average 5.3 percent net return of the wider MSCI World Index.

That’s not news to Kerry Rupp, who voiced a similar sentiment during a recent event in San Antonio. She and Sara Brand are founders of True Wealth Ventures, an Austin-based venture capital firm that invests in startups with diverse executive teams. The firm has $20 million under management and is searching for more investment opportunities.

The pay gap also drags on the economy at large. Women’s full participation in the United States economy would add $28 trillion to annual gross domestic product by 2025, according to a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report cited by State Street Global.

Entrepreneurial organizations exist in Austin to help startups achieve the same goals, such as DivInc, an accelerator focused on companies led by women and racial minorities, while the Austin Diversity Hackathon is a nascent attempt to bring together enterprising coders with varied backgrounds.

Narrative Edge (NE), which specializes in executive, editorial-driven video programming, has partnered with American City Business Journals to deliver targeted, high-quality video content. Click here to learn more about the company.

Will Anderson coordinates digital coverage of business news.