Updated: Feb 18
Inclusion, diversity and equality bring many benefits to business.
What do we mean when we speak of workplace diversity?
When speaking of diversity, many people often think that it is a code for race and gender issues and fail to understand the breadth of what diversity actually is.
Within an increasingly complex and competitive space, progressive businesses are continually seeking to maximise diversity to remain relevant.
This is true in terms of workplace environment and service development. It is also relevant to capturing the attention of an increasingly diverse customer base and growing your business.
Ultimately, it will be those who can reflect the richness and complexity of diversity that are most successful.
The businesses that showcase diversity throughout all aspects of their operations, will be the ones that progress and benefit from enhanced business results.
The benefits of diversity cannot be understated and are underpinned by strategic opportunities to advance quality, supporting inclusive boardroom decisions, that benefit every operation of the business.
Opportunities to embed diversity.
High profile cases of sexual discrimination, such as that of Harvey Weinstein, which sparked the #MeToo movement across the world, have served to reignite the issue of sexual harassment within society.
There are, however, many other opportunities within the workplace that continue to be overlooked.
Issues of workplace race and disability discrimination, are often discounted by employers, often because of lack of understanding and training in discrimination.
Often those who are visibly different, face exclusion within staff teams and may not be considered part of the dominant ethic, social and cultural mix within the workplace.
They are often excluded or marginalised at work functions or, may be invited, but not allowed to participate in a meaningful way. This amounts to discrimination.
Whilst things have moved forward a lot over the past 20 or so years, and clearly attitudes towards race, disability and gender stereotypes have changed, unfairness and discrimination can still be found within the workplace.
Many businesses are failing to keep up with societal changes and remain entrenched in their status quo.
Many employers have official policies to promote a diverse workforce, supported by current HR regulations, but in practice, do nothing to embed diversity through behavioural change and training.
They remain tied to practices that support discrimination. It is important for businesses to audit for diversity and change the status quo, where necessary.
We are who we employ
It is easy to recruit for, and employ people in our own image, but what does this do to help diversity and inclusion? Employing to increase the numbers of visibly diverse employees does nothing for diversity and inclusion.
It serves merely as an attempt to present an image that the organisation is diverse. Talent is diverse. Recruitment should be inclusive.
Without a system of embedding diversity and inclusion into the structure of your business planning activity, the approach of recruiting purely for visibly diverse employees is destined to fail.
You can read more about this in our blog post 'Diversity Is Not A Numbers Game'.
Modern businesses thrive on diversity. Leaders understand the importance of employing a wide range of staff, of all abilities and from a multitude of cultural and social backgrounds.
They are keen to identify internal practices, organisational values and attitudes that serve to negate the benefits of diversity.
These businesses are aware that suppressing diversity and maintaining a cultural status quo is not good for business in a modern, diverse marketplace. They are proactive in developing a business fit for the modern age.
Diversity is best for business.
For some years, the international Management Consulting firm McKinsey has been analysing issues of diversity. A major report ‘Diversity Matters’, published in 2015, recorded major benefits of a diverse and inclusive business.
The firm analysed 366 public companies recording that those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity, obtained higher financial returns, as compared to the industry median.
They were found to be more successful by 35% which highlights the business benefits actively engaging with diversity.
This demonstrates that companies that value diversity and inclusion are more likely to be successful. Diversity has a marked effect on market share and the attractiveness of the business and this is a fact that cannot be ignored.
A business that is proactive with diversity and inclusion, benefits from the ability to cultivate relationships with diverse groups and individuals.
It is more likely to be able to market its goods and services more effectively, within a wider range of markets.
Developing an understanding, and appreciation, of the needs of a wide range of customers, will enable a focused marketing campaign to attract both clients and customers to your business.
Employee diversity training will help to increase knowledge and understanding on the intrinsic value of difference.
Having in-depth knowledge of racially, culturally or linguistically diverse communities will help to develop better working practices.
Simultaneously, increasing understanding LGBTQ communities, gender issues and or/ people with disabilities, will build better insight.
Learning and development across the various strands of diversity, will help business to expand the reach of their products and services and help embed diversity into recruitment processes.
Embedding diversity is just good business!
As populations age, skills and labour shortages intensify. This will be compounded with the onset of Brexit in the UK, which is likely to add further complexity to the recruitment function.
Costs associated with labour will become more expensive, unless the recruitment pool can be expanded to include a much wider array of candidates.
Employers will need to 'up the game’ when it comes to sourcing candidates. They will need to embrace diverse recruitment strategies that can bring the necessary skills and creativity.
Choosing to develop an inclusive recruitment process is a key element of the process.
For business to succeed in a rapidly changing environment, it makes business sense to embrace diversity.
Enabling a diverse recruitment strategy is not a ‘charitable’ activity. It is a sound business strategy, that will help to build your business. Both customers and staff will embrace businesses that are willing to promote and embed diversity and inclusion.
Diversity makes a business more appealing to candidates, who are seeking forward thinking employers with which to build their careers.
Customers are more likely to remain loyal to businesses that are continually improving and developing strategies for inclusion.
By showing that your business values inclusion, you are more likely to achieve sustainability in uncertain economic times.
Moving from good to great with diversity.
As all of us are different in our own ways. Embracing the cultural, social, linguistic and other differences (and similarities) can be a real boost to business.
By understanding the benefits that diversity can bring, in terms of product and service development, business can excel in creativity and innovation.
The best way to start the process of embedding diversity and inclusion into your business is to develop a business vision and formulate a diversity strategy.
Diversity impacts positively on all aspects of your business.
By undertaking training on diversity and inclusion, a business can gain knowledge of the legal aspects of diversity and discrimination as well as difference and inclusion.
Managers should expose themselves to different groups of workers to gain knowledge about diversity.
Your business may also consider setting up staff diversity networks to assist in the process of embedding diversity.
Direct interventions, such as diversity recruitment strategies, mentoring programs can also help with embedding diversity across your business and developing effective solutions to support diversity.
Board members should analyse the impact that diversity can have on business growth and important synergies with their customers.
By engaging with and embedding diversity, in a globally connected community, your business will achieve better outcomes.
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Kenroi Consulting is a bespoke diversity consultancy providing tailor made solutions for business.
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