Diversity as a concept first introduced in the early 1940s has evolved over the past few years immensely. It is one of those strategic initiatives that all the progressive organizations invest in.
While hiring diverse talent is important, retention of this talent over a reasonable time within an organization has gained substantially higher importance in the past few years. Hence the concept of diversity is practiced in conjunction with inclusion.
“In a survey of 1,000 respondents run by Glassdoor, it was found that 67% of job seekers overall look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer.”(HBR)
With no single definition of diversity being in place, for simple use and ease of understanding from an organization’s perspective, it can be considered as a group of people who are different from each other on multiple human and geographical demographics and are brought together for their skills. Inclusion, on the other hand, focuses on creating and having a culture that nurtures this talent, provides them with a healthy work atmosphere thereby allowing them to come together and work harmoniously, comfortably and contribute effectively and confidently.
Inclusion ensures that everyone feels valued and adds value.
The benefits of diversity in the workplace include economic growth, reduction in employee turnover rate & increase in retention rate, employee satisfaction, increased productivity and more. We will discuss these in detail.
“50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity” (Glassdoor)
With diversity in the workplace focusing on who is getting hired and inclusion focusing on how they feel at work, let us look at how D&I is redefining the organizations in becoming high performing organizations.
“Credit Suisse's 2012 global analysis found that organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher net income growth and a higher return on equity than those without a woman on the board.” (Glassdoor)
High Retention rate both of talent and knowledge. With strong inclusion practices, an employee feels heard, valued and a sense of belonging to an organization. These are clubbed with encouraging policies of growth and advancement, timely feedback processes, reward and recognition and overall employee-centric culture. The organization provides all the reasons for an employee to thrive and grow.
For wholesome working experience in an organization, there are interventions required at all stages of an employee’s life cycle along with pre-hiring and post-exit stages. With inclusion in the foundation of people policies and practices, culture focusing on employee well being and development, the engagement scores are bound to result in high ESAT and NPS scores.
With talent coming in from diverse backgrounds, cultures, nationalities and perspective, the organization transforms into a global think tank that allows for the free flow of ideas and suggestions, debate and brainstorming thereby resulting in the best and the most comprehensive output to any given situation.
Employees in such set up go beyond their personal likes and beliefs, and as the group is diverse, the possibility of thinking same ideas or solution or shying away from sharing thoughts is reduced considerably thereby allowing freshness in every idea and paving the way for innovation with creativity
“As per 2016, Boston Consulting Group study innovation jumps once the proportion of female managers within an organization rises above 20%” (Glassdoor)
As the inclusive culture thrives on openness, transparency and believes in sharing ideas and contributing to each other’s success, it enables employees to seek each other’s help, receive feedback positively, learn and optimize their performance. In this process, everybody learns and grows thereby improving an organization’s performance levels too.
“A study by Enterprise decision platform Cloverpop shows that inclusive decision-making leads to better business decisions 87% of the time, reaching those decisions twice as fast in half the meeting times.” (Glassdoor)
With your talent coming from a diverse background that grows with your well-placed inclusive practices, your employees become your brand ambassadors in contributing positively to the brand image. Not only does it connect you to the specific diversity communities locally, but it allows you to expand your reach far and wide. The more you become strong with D&I, the more diverse and good talent you attract and retain, the more you add to your brand image.
“A Glassdoor study found that 57% of employees and 67% of job seekers consider diversity an important element of their workplace, which affects recruitment and retention.” (Builtin)
A diverse workforce is a strong knowledge base of local cultural and societal nuances. They bring good insights into these cultural aspects that can be of immense value as part of sustenance and expansion. Their links & ties to local communities, self-help groups, memberships in their respective diverse groups can be good sources of information and local talent sources.
Refinitiv, one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, serving over 40,000 institutions in approximately 190 countries, recently announced the 2020 top 100 most diverse and inclusive organizations globally as ranked by the D&I index leading the top 100 D&I index were banking, investment services and insurance firms, followed by pharmaceuticals, telecommunication services, speciality retailers, personal and household products and services.
The United States leads the Top 100 list with 20 firms, followed by the United Kingdom with 13, Australia with 9 and Canada and France with 7. The D&I Index utilizes innovative analytics to rate and score companies across 4 main pillars: Diversity, Inclusion, People Development and Controversies.
Globally the cultural diversity of board members has increased from five years ago but has stalled at around 30%.
For more information about the Diversity and Inclusion report for 2020, please visit here:
Cultural diversity, to a great extent, enters the organizations naturally as they start to expand and go global.
However, for some forms of diversity such as gender diversity, PwD, LGBTQ require commitment and well-defined inclusion practices such as –
This allows an organization to clearly and upfront express and detail out what is acceptable and what is not. It puts out an organisation’s commitment to a fair, transparent, respectful, and equality-based approach in their actions. Clearly spelt out guidelines as part of recruitment policy, promotions, appraisals, dress code, disciplinary actions for non-adherence and overall code of conduct leaves helps employees align their actions to the organization’s focus on equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“The majority of women in the workforce feel excluded from decision making, do not feel comfortable expressing their opinions, and do not feel as though they can succeed.” (Culture Amp)
People follow leaders and managers drive their teams. It is hence important to have them on board with the concept of D&I. Executing a well-articulated training plan to create awareness and adoption of D&I by the leaders will help them overcome their personal notions/beliefs/stereotypes and act in the best interest of the organisation. As the employees see their leaders lead by example, it drives commitment in them to as well as practice inclusion in their actions.
A diversity in the workplace statistics says that-
“Companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues. (HBR)”
This goes a long way as it motivates the employee to continue exhibiting right behaviour and serves as an encouragement to other employees too. Having a balanced R&R program that focuses both on performance and behaviour / interpersonal skills shows the commitment of an organisation in driving inclusivity.
There may be some instances that due to some past experiences and notions, employees may not be able to express their ideas freely every time. By creating channels that are secure, anonymous, and safe, the organization displays its commitment to concerns in action. It tells the employees that you are interested in listening to their ideas, feedback, observations, and this helps in building trust and instils confidence.
With new talent coming in and exits, a shift in organization priority, there are chances of slippage. Dip checks, anonymous pulse surveys spread periodically can be a great way to identify gaps, employee alignment to the practices and gather candid feedback.
“According to a 2015 McKinsey report, companies in the top quarter for racial/ethnic cultural are 35% more likely to surpass peers, while those in the same bracket for gender diversity are 15% more likely to do the same. (McKinsey)”
Apart from the daily display of right behaviour and action, planning events that focus on inclusivity, celebrating occasions focused on diversity, driving projects/assignments that require global teams coming together can be fun ways of continually reinforcing the right behaviour required for driving inclusion and promoting diversity. Engaging with communities outside work as part of social responsibility can be another great way to expose employees to diversity and create respect and acceptance.
“Companies with “two-dimensional” diversity are 45% more likely to report that they had captured a larger portion of the market and 70% more likely to have entered into a new market in the past year.” (HBR)
Having well defined mentoring, job shadowing, coaching or a simple buddy system will allow for easy assimilation of a new joiner and smooth sharing of ideas and knowledge. It will also promote the concept of people working together, getting to know each other, respect each other and create acceptance.
With further technological advancements and more and more organizations going global, having well functional D&I initiatives have become integral to our success. As we move from shock to adaptation and eventual emergence from the effects of the pandemic, we will see only the well-designed D&I initiatives yielding results.
The human connect has become more virtual; employees are experiencing social isolation; some of the traditional engagement initiatives are not completely successful. We did see in the initial stages of pandemic lockdown that the organizations and the leaders across the globe acted swiftly in enabling the employees to work from home.
A lot of infrastructure support was being provided to ensure the employees are safe, comfortable, and productive. Traditional performance management guidelines were altered, acceptance is shown in flexible work hours, and a lot of trusts displayed in the employees in owning their responsibilities which were received with responsibility and reciprocated positively.
Understanding the need of the hour, to mitigate the impact of social anxiety, isolation, fear and stress, employees came together to form self-help groups, offered to buddy with each other, took initiatives in keeping each other engaged. Lots of employee-centric initiatives, including EAP, were introduced/steered with rigour to do the damage control.
But as the work from home / virtual working becomes a new normal, diversity will continue to increase. What we do need to watch out for is the consistency in driving inclusion. Organizations and their leaders will need to exercise emotional intelligence to drive inclusion effectively. A sense of trust, a conscious effort to connect with all, an honest, candid, and open discussion, forums for all to connect and be heard will need to become part of our daily efforts.
This pandemic turned out to be an opportunity for the organizations to gauge how truly and deeply their inclusion practices were embedded and sown in their DNA. How we sustain, adapt, grow, and thrive as an organization will surely have D&I as one of the pillars in its foundation.