Our need and availability for immediate information boosted by the digital age has proved both helpful and challenging for business. Employees, clients and customers want to be part of the conversation, to know us and identify with our values and culture in order to trust enough to purchase or buy in to the product or service on offer.
Review, adaption and change in this fast moving environment is vital in order for business to remain current.
Creating and maintaining diversity in the workplace is a large part of the picture. The evidence is now clear cut. Organisations that embrace diversity in all its forms have been shown to have better business outcomes across a number of parametres.
McKinsey research has shown that gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same. Deloitte has demonstrated statistically that all-inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% in team based assessments. The ‘Credit Suisse report: “Gender 3000: The reward for Change” report suggests that companies with at least 15% women in senior positions have a return on equity of 18% higher than those companies with less than 10% women.
But what exactly is diversity in the workplace? What does it mean?
Chron describes diversity in this environment quite aptly:
“Diversity has to do with more than race or ethnicity. Diverse workplaces are composed of employees with varying characteristics including, but not limited to, religious and political beliefs, gender, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and geographic location.”
Essentially, embracing diversity means we encompass all of the above consciously, and endeavor to ensure all of these groups are included in our employee group. In addition, we also need to understand how these groups form our client/customers and identify ways we can effectively engage with them to benefit both parties.
Examples of organisations where diversity has been incorporated and resulted in very positive outcomes include:
Johnson and Johnson Pty Ltd:
This global company has worked hard to ensure that all employees help to create an inclusive environment. The organisation’s global diversity and inclusion vision is “to maximise the global power of diversity and inclusion to drive superior business results and sustainable competitive advantage.”
Johnson and Johnson apparently incorporate a number of employee resource groups, mentoring programs and ‘Diversity University’, which is a website that aims to help employees understand the benefits of working collaboratively, a great initiative. They also employ a Chief Diversity officer who reports directly to the CEO.
Various rewards the company has received include being recognised by U.S. Veterans Magazine as the “Best of the Best” for strides made in diversity efforts, and being one of only two companies that have been on the "Working Mother 100 Best" list for the past 28 years.
Named as one of the ‘World’s Best Multinational Workplaces" by "Great Place to Work’, in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence, Marriott International prides itself on its commitment to diversity. They apparently aim to have 1,500 open hotels owned by women and diverse partners by 2020.
LGBT inclusion is a top priority for Marriott International. They received that ‘Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality’ award post receiving a perfect score on the HRC’s 2016 Corporate Equality Index, a recognised benchmark for diversity and inclusion.
These are both examples of very large companies embracing diversity however diversity and inclusion activities can be included in any size organisation (and should!)
We work with both large and small workplaces to assess and implement change. In the first instance we always assess the state of play in the organisation. Statistics such as gender ratios over various company tiers and also ethnicity differences are assessed at a baseline as well as existing perceptions of staff regarding company culture.
Amongst the many strategies to implement in order to create a diverse and inclusive culture, organisations can:
Create a Culture Cross functional group: This group can have members across all facets of the company and be responsible for developing, communicating and implementing activities encouraging diversity and inclusion. Choosing positive innovative members for this group from all facets of the organisation who will have influence across the employee team is important.
Managers and Leaders need to live, breathe and walk the talk of diversity. They must embrace change and lead by example in diversity. Hence training at this level initially is vital.
Implement an employment policy that encourages diversity.
Allow employees time to access and become involved in worthy community causes is a great idea.
Get to know your audience: Understanding the cultural and diverse nature of your customers and clients is also essential in order to target your marketing message. Survey them to obtain info and ensure your own diversity message reaches them too.
Recognise cultural days that are of significance to your various employee populations.
Include a diversity activity measurement within all employee appraisals across all levels of the business
There are many other activities that organisations can implement to create a culture of diversity and inclusion. Remember that by taking on these values you are not only providing a key to improve your workforce’s productivity and enjoyment but you are also potentially adding to the business bottom line.
1. McKinsey: “Why diversity matters.” Jan 2015 http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters
2. Deloitte: “Only skin deep: Re-examining the business case for Diversity.” https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/human-capital/deloitte-au-hc-diversity-skin-deep-2011.pdf
3. Credit Suisse: “Gender 3000: The reward for Change report.”www.prnnewswire.com