Mar 08, 2022 9 min read
Corporate Diversity & Inclusion
Corporate diversity is a major hot topic in the world today. Post #metoo, in the age of #BLM, with movements for inclusion, diversity, racial and indigenous rights, and accurate history strengthening across the world, we truly live in the age of diversity, with society acknowledging more layers of diversity every day. More than at any point in history, companies have to learn to be conscious and mindful of this diversity. The evidence clearly shows that a culturally diverse workforce adds to the productivity, profits, and overall well-being of the collective workforce of the company.
What is this concept of corporate diversity and inclusion?
Understanding the concept of diversity and inclusion includes the creation of a long-term vision to align the company workforce with the demographics of its consumer base. A culturally diverse company is in a better position to understand and cater to the diverse values, and perceptions of its culturally diverse consumers, partners, and stakeholders. This understanding is a useful tool to engage in the best strategic practices to benefit everyone in today’s multicultural work situations.
Corporate diversity occurs when an organization chooses to intentionally hire and employ employees of varying genders, races, ethnicity, age, physical abilities, religion, political ideologies, sexual orientations, and socio-economic statuses. Inclusion is the process of achieving a fair and respectful work environment in which all employees have equal opportunities and resources, which enables them to contribute fully to organizational success.
Why is corporate diversity and inclusion important?
Corporate diversity and inclusion is good practice, sure, and a hallmark of corporate responsibility. But they are also proven to enhance not just your organization’s reputation in the market but can actually deliver tangible and quantifiable business benefits.
Creativity and innovative thinking
Organizations with boards and teams consisting solely of people with similar skills, backgrounds, and outlooks can become victims of groupthink, where everyone’s mind runs along the same rails. Adding variety to the ideating voices increases the range of innovation and hothouses new ideas.
Productivity has been known to soar when diverse team members bring in varying skills and a range of experiences from their different backgrounds. New concepts are born, and they are realized faster, with diverse experiences working on the challenge, enhancing the financial performance of the organization.
Additional points in the talent war
When a company employs people with wide ranges of varied experience and backgrounds, potential hires begin to see the organization as a positive workplace where they would feel welcomed. This increases the pool of qualified candidates and varied talent available to the company.
Better employee engagement and satisfaction leading to loyalty
Employees thrive in roles where they are respected for their authentic selves. This brings out their best, which works well for the employer. They will also champion your brand and enhance its external perception and reputation, leading to the attraction of more talent and longer employee retention.
Builds better customer relations
Customers connect with and better like an organization that reflects them – in terms of criteria like gender, age, race, etc. when they see themselves mirrored in your business, it gives you a strategic edge in connecting with your consumer.
Barriers to diversity and inclusivity
Strong existing company cultures create a sense of uniformity and engender a consistency of behavior among employees. Although desirable in many ways, this consistency can derail the goal of creating a diverse workplace for competitive advantage. Strong cultures are created through the selection of new employees who best show a person-organization fit which tends to limit the diversity. When potential employees are looking for employers, often they will avoid companies known for strong cultures that are not aligned with their own personal values. In addition, strong cultures homogenize the workforce. The need for increased diversity is because a more diverse decision-making body is more creative and more in line with today’s increasingly diverse market. The benefits of diversity hiring can be completely canceled and lost when the existing strong culture forces new employees to fit in.
Culture changes needed for successful diversity and inclusion
Lead from the front
Nothing succeeds better than empathetic leadership. Leaders need to identify and practice behaviors they would prefer to see – to model best practices from their highest echelons. Leadership needs to support corporate diversity, looking beyond the usual sources when recruiting, paying attention to succession planning, and building diversity all along the pipeline.
Employees need to feel comfortable and welcome in the organization. A feeling of connection to the organization makes results in greater engagement and increased creativity in the workplace. Creating this belonging is a process, not always linear, or one-size-fits-all. It will take work, but is sure to pay off.
Put in consistent effort
The process of creating a corporate diversity strategy requires long-term work. It is not just a box one can tick by simply doing a few diversity training sessions with the board and employees. New habits and processes take time and consistent effort to build.
Quotas won’t solve it
Quotas have their place but businesses that focus too much on them can lose sight of the welcome and treatment they receive once they join. The organizational culture must be conducive to allowing employees to thrive once they are in their roles.
There is a lot of evidence that diverse and inclusive companies make better and bolder decisions which keeps them afloat even in a crisis. Diverse teams have shown a better ability to radically innovate. They also better anticipate shifts in the needs and consumption patterns of the consumer. The current shift, due to the pandemic and the repeated lockdowns globally, to technology-enhanced remote working is the perfect opportunity for organizations to accelerate the creation of diverse, inclusive, and agile cultures and challenging and changing existing management routines. In addition, being seen to be focused on diversity and inclusion at this time of global crisis and diversity rights movements will strengthen the organization’s global image.
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