Updated: May 12
There is increasing evidence to support building diversity and inclusion into business practice. Developing diversity and inclusive processes has been shown to benefit employee relations.
It improves the recruitment process, helping to attract and retain top talent. It develops the workforce and supports progression across the business, helping to motivate staff teams.
Diversity can expand the client base, improve profitability and develop innovation across products and services. Encouraging diversity affords business a real competitive edge.
The business case for diversity supports business planning strategies. Business is constantly trying to extend reach into new markets in order to remain viable in a rapidly changing space.
Diversity and inclusion must be embedded into strategic plans to enable growth and expansion.
Sourcing and Retaining Diverse Talent
Thinking and acting in a diverse and inclusive manner are key components in the process of sourcing and developing top talent. It also benefits an organisation in responding effectively to changing employee and customer needs, as it changes and develops over time and across demographics, both locally and globally.
The ability to source and retain top talent is also crucial to growing and maintaining profits and capturing unrealised spaces within a business competitive marketplace.
Sourcing diverse talent and embedding inclusive processes helps to engage staff with diversity.
However, the implementation of D&I often falls short of the standards necessary to recruit and retain staff from different cultural, gender, social, religious, and lifestyle backgrounds.
Despite an increased level of competition to attract new markets and global talent, many companies still have much work to do. They are often inactive, or slow, to develop processes to effectively embed D&I effectively into day to day operational processes.
A Compelling Case for Diversity - Business Critical
The benefits of making a business case for diversity are often misunderstood or completely overlooked.
Traditionally, there was a major focus on compliance issues relevant to diversity and inclusion amongst the vast majority of businesses, but truly embracing diversity and inclusion requires more than this. Diversity and inclusion is a business critical element of successful business planning.
Whilst the understanding of diversity and inclusion has developed and evolved over time, there is still a need to develop D&I across many organisations. Many more workplaces need to realise the concept of D&I as a business critical element of environmental, business planning and operational practice.
Diversity cultivates excellence, through innovation and creativity, thus rendering a business competent and increasing exposure and market share.
Whilst the business case for diversity is important, it is important not to consider the business case,without paying attention to the people focused aspects, around diversity and inclusion.
The goal is to improve the workplace experience of people from marginalised backgrounds, with a keen focus on fairness, equity, dignity and respect. It is key to develop the processes and procedures to ensure that people from all backgrounds benefit from diversity and inclusion and that aspects such as inclusive recruitment, equitable progression and access to learning opportunities, for example, form an integral part of an organisational business case.
Diversity Recruitment and Retention
As customers become more demanding, and demographics change, organisations must become more focused on how they attract, retain and develop staff.
They must create working environments that leverage diversity and inclusion as a means of attracting, supporting and retaining staff.
The business case for diversity must be explicit and integral to business functionality. It is to be considered at the start of developing or reviewing of processes and not as an exercise of ‘political correctness’ or compliance.
Businesses must find ways of attracting new sources of talent and develop inclusive workplace environments. Failure to excel in this area will mean losing talent to more proactive competitors.
An inclusive recruitment strategy is key to developing your business case and diversity planning strategy. As the marketplace becomes more diverse, so do those entering the workforce.
These three useful steps will help to build a business case around D&I:
Defining the Drivers for Diversity
The first step is to identify the key drivers for diversity and inclusion.
External drivers will set the context within which your business needs to operate in order to be successful. Analyse current research about where growth is occurring, not only within your industry but also in industries where your business could make an impact.
Where is your existing competition focusing and what new ways of working are emerging competition bringing to your industry?
Consider the implications for diversity and inclusion.
Internal drivers focus on within. Define the internal drivers for diversity and inclusion.
How does increased competition for talent require your business to find recruits in new ways? How do you foster an inclusive environment, where staff feel supported and where capabilities and contributions are captured and encouraged?
Examine your organisational processes. Where are the pain points? How can you effectively develop diversity and inclusion across your business.
How do you consider diversity relative to talent in leadership roles? Does it effectively mirroring your customer base, inform learning and development etc.
Stakeholder Analysis of Diversity
Secondly, you will need to review your internal functions and processes. Conduct a stakeholder analysis to understand how your internal business functions need to adapt to changing demographics in order to achieve better results.
Consider your HR, IT, marketing, procurement, and legal functions as a starting point for your analysis. Your external stakeholders will hold valuable information and as such, an examination of the views of these key stakeholders will be invaluable source of key information.
Capture information from, for example, customers, suppliers, market analysts or government agencies and think tanks that work within your industry. How do you see their perspectives shifting in response to diversity and inclusive relative to seismic demographic changes?
Identifying Gaps in Diversity
Thirdly, you must identify gaps in your organisational diversity. By defining your internal and external drivers and conducting analysis of your stakeholders, both internal and external, you will inevitably identify gaps in your practice.
Identifying gaps in diversity creates opportunities for development of policy and practice.
Key gaps may relate to staff turnover, skills shortages, missed market opportunities or disappointing business results.
Whatever the gaps are, they will help you visualise the ways in which there is a need to create opportunities for action. Once you have identified gaps, you will have a defined business case to develop diversity and inclusion within your business processes.
You can now establish a vision for diversity and inclusion and communicate the message to your various stakeholders. The next stage is your planning for diversity.
You can watch a video on strategic diversity planning here!
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Kenroi Consulting is a bespoke diversity consultancy providing tailor made solutions for businesses across the UK and beyond.