Equality and Diversity: The Business CasePosted in : HR Updates on 6 September 2017
In recent years we have seen many of the most successful organisations celebrating the positive impact of diversity on their business. The message is clear: greater diversity in your organisation will lead to greater diversity of thought which, in turn, will generate smart, innovative approaches to achieving business success.
For example, companies with greater gender and racial diversity tend to outperform their competitors financially. In particular, achieving diversity in your workplace at managerial level in terms of nationality and gender balance has been proven to have a positive impact on the bottom line. This balance also foments innovation and improves market understanding.
Organisations that have embraced the diversity agenda have demonstrated that diverse team composition will boost innovation in your business whilst homogeneity in teams is more likely to cause your organisation to fall behind competitors. In essence, companies that out-innovate their competition gain a competitive edge, increase their market share and attract future investment. The fact that ‘diverse’ companies yield better stock market returns makes diverse organisations more much attractive to investors.
Another important factor is that a diverse team will deliver a better understanding of your client base. More diverse businesses are better able to respond to increasingly diverse client groups. In the modern business world, it is becoming increasingly important that products and services are relevant to customers of different ethnic, social, physical, and geographic backgrounds. In addition, a diverse team is also more likely to achieve success through B2B collaboration and strategic alliances.
Not surprisingly, most employees want to work for an organisation that values diversity. Fostering diversity in the workplace enhances an organisation’s ability to attract and retain top talent. Not only does it widen the pool of quality job applicants, it demonstrates a workplace culture that values all staff and demonstrates strong corporate and social responsibility.
Building an inclusive workforce will enable your organisation to tap into a vast pool of talent. This is only attainable when organisations embrace diversity and create an inclusive workplace culture that attracts and facilitates the success of all staff in the workplace. It is critical that corporate cultures ensure that all employees feel enabled to achieve success in a work environment free of stereotypical and prejudiced characterisations. Not only will this culture allay claims of discrimination, it will enable your organisation to get the best from their staff.
The subject of workplace diversity tends to focus the mind on demographic variables including minority groups and this can lead to ‘tokenism’ and other failed, half-hearted diversity initiatives. Ultimately, it is ‘deep level diversity’ that is most likely to generate sustainable, long-term business success and this can be achieved through a selection process, organisational design and culture founded on a blend of psychological variables such as personality traits, values and skills aligned to business needs. Deep level diversity omits stereotyping and bias and embraces individual difference. It allows organisations to bring together divergent thinking, fresh perspectives and a blend of skills aligned to business needs that will propel your business to achieve greater success.
And if you are still sceptical of the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce, Deloitte’s annual Human Capital Trends Survey says it all, concluding that inclusive organizations are six times more likely to be innovative, three times more likely to be high-performing, six times more likely to be agile, twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, and eight times more likely to have overall better business outcomes. According to Helena Barton, PhD partner and Client Service Executive at Deloitte, “The business case is so compelling now… Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance”.
Tips on how to achieve diversity in your workplace
The business case for diversity is clear but many diversity programs fail. Here are some tips to help you on your way to achieving a workplace that embraces and benefits from a diverse workforce:
Revise your recruitment and selection practices:
- For example, consider hiring people who could bring in new perspectives to the organization.
- Ensure that you attract and select from a diverse spectrum of candidates.
- Consider the benefits of ‘culture add’ over ‘culture fit’ in the selection process.
Diversity initiatives are more effective if they start at the top. Therefore, ensure that your managers avoid the following common assumptions:
- Do not assume that all employees share the same goals.
- Equality is not about giving everyone the same things, but about giving people what they need to do a good job and providing the type of work environment and workplace culture that accommodates this.
- Part of building an inclusive environment is not about changing people to fit into your new organisational culture. It’s about changing the workplace into an environment in which all staff will succeed without the fear of prejudice and discrimination
Beware of the destabilising impact of cultural change in your organisation:
- Avoid ‘tokenism’ which can be met with a backlash of resistance as your diversity initiatives could be seen as half-hearted and not to be taken seriously.
- Be aware of sceptics within your organisation who may doubt the merits of diversity. For some, embracing diversity could represent a risk to the success of the business and “the way we have always done things here”. Consider creating a change management programme to phase in this culture shift.
- Clearly and consistently communicate the benefits of diversity to your organisation.
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