Updated: May 6
Diversity by demographics is not the best way to drive inclusion
There is sometimes a misguided belief that by employing staff from different communities, an organisation will achieve diversity and be able to engage with its staff base effectively. Is this really the case?
Can diversity and inclusion be achieved merely by recruiting a diverse workforce? What problems occur from trying to achieve diversity and inclusion based on demographics alone?
A business is naturally focused on it’s bottom line. As such, most businesses seek to achieve outcomes that are linked to profitability, as it relates to their products and services, and how profit and productivity margins are increased year on year.
The key focus of many organisations is how people, products and services are developed to assist profitability… i.e, their bottom line.
Business focus is on the 'bottom line'.
Within the executive ranks of many organisations, diversity and inclusion can be difficult to quantify. Promoting it can be tough and difficult to measure for many businesses that do not have processes in place to engage with diversity and embed it within its structure.
Investing in diversity in key to developing the systems and structures that will enhance business outcomes. It provides solid processes and behaviours that deliver a host of business benefits.
'Inclusion' is a managed process
Short term, or 'one off' diversity initiatives, do little to embed diversity into organisational culture and, as a result, have little benefit to developing a truly inclusive workplace.
The short term benefits that may result from diversity initiatives, may be lost when it comes to embedding diversity and inclusion, as a key theme, across business functions and practices.
Developing diversity and inclusion should be a constant and evolving business activity. It should be an integral part of business functioning and corporate decision making.
Diversity and inclusion forms part of the change management process.
Including diversity and inclusion, as a core theme of broader business objectives and activities, is the first step in the management of diversity.
Diversity and inclusion flourishes by embedding it, is a managed process, across the business. It does not occur just because it is on a 'wish list' or because a business undertakes short term projects, or recruitment drives, to increase visible difference in the staff population.
Executive support is key to inclusion.
Management and executive ‘buy in’ of the processes necessary to truly, embed diversity and inclusion, is absolutely necessary to truly embedding diversity and understanding.
In order to frame diversity, as a key component of successful operational practice, it must be accepted and understood, at the highest levels within the business.
A commitment to diversity and inclusion, will become visible in improved business and workplace outcomes. It is crucial to delivering on diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Progressive organisations are keen to invest in diversity in terms of policies, strategic development and operational outcomes.
They ensure that diversity and inclusion is a core theme across induction processes, project and people management and form a part of key performance outcomes and metrics, across all areas of the business.
They acknowledge the potential for developing a better business through developing an inclusive organisation that is knowledgeable of the business benefits of diversity.
These organisations are successful, in that they do not see diversity and inclusion as a 'lesser priority' for their business. Rather, they understand that to progress their business aims, diversity must be a core theme across all their planning, management and developmental processes.
These, progressive organisations, recognise that the potential for fostering and inclusive workplace determines their strategy for foster change and build a more effective business.
D&I is an integral part of successful business planning.
Executives within truly diverse companies understand that accountability for diversity and inclusion is essential. They understand that what gets measured, gets done! They ensure that measurement of progress around D&I is a recurring theme within the boardroom.
Working towards diversifying an organisation requires will. The executive must have ownership of the process for it to be successful. The process cannot be limited to demographics.
Simply hiring people from a range of different backgrounds and cultures will do nothing to advance an organisation towards effective D&I goals.
Diversity and Inclusion is about advancing staff and business outcomes. Creating business growth opportunities and developing creativity and innovation, is a key deliverable of progress successful business.
The move toward embedding D&I must not be limited to changing the demographics of the workforce. The benefits of inclusion come through leveraging diversity in a meaningful way.
This necessitates building a workplace and business culture, where a variety of opinions and insights can be heard. It requires the positioning of an organisation to enable improved collaboration and greater productivity.
Executive 'buy in' to the business case for diversity, will ultimately make it easier to quantify the full benefits of a more inclusive environment.
As organisations develop, share good practice and work collaboratively to embed diversity and inclusion across industries, more organisations will follow and create a corporate environment that truly values diversity.
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Kenroi Consulting is a bespoke diversity consultancy providing tailor made solutions for businesses across the UK.
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