Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) within an Organisation refers to programs and policies that encourage the representation and participation of individuals from different groups, including people of various age groups, races, ethnicities, genders, abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations. It covers individuals with diverse backgrounds, skills, experiences, and expertise. D&I is founded on the fundamental premise of equality and should be of prime importance, especially in the workplace. While D&I can prove to be a powerful motivating tool for the workforce, it also uncovers diverse and perhaps original thoughts and ideas that the organisation can harness for furthering its business goals . The concept of D&I is multi-dimensional and one of the key imperatives in the modern workplace.
Let’s discuss D&I, its benefits, the role of organisation in improving the D&I quotient.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)
Diversity is the essence of being human. A diverse workplace doesn’t exclude anyone based on factors like age, gender, race, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs, or other factors that distinguish one person from another Inclusion implies that everyone is acknowledged, valued, and encouraged to grow and prosper. It also means that these diverse perspectives are integrated into the organization’s goals and operations.
Diversity by itself is not effective. Only when it goes hand in hand with inclusion can the true benefits be harnessed. It not only creates a self-motivated workforce, it also opens the window for innovative ideas, which can be used to further the company’s business to new heights.
How does diversity and inclusion help?
Organisations that have a well-defined D&I strategy and execution plan often outperform their competitors. These organisations are likely to prosper as implementing D&I often leads to enhanced output, improved morale and better staff retention. Some of the key benefits of D&I are as under:
1. Step towards a more just society
Perhaps the most important reason for organizations to implement D&I is that it is a step towards a more just society for all. Prejudices and biases that have persisted for generations are now embedded in the corporate ecosystem. D&I seeks to provide a more just and inclusive work environment and thereby contributes to the society at large.
2. Creativity and innovation
Workplace D&I often results in novel business ideas. A diverse work atmosphere generates distinct and frequently opposing views, enhancing creativity and leading to previously untapped solutions. In today’s competitive market, revenue is driven primarily by innovation. A new product or service or an improvement to a current one may result in revenue windfall. D&I, by its very nature, fosters innovation which can help businesses. And let us not forget that the society we serve is diverse as are the needs. Teams, having members from diverse backgrounds, perceive work from a variety of perspectives, often owing to personal experiences rather than theory. These teams not only discover new market opportunities but also create them since they are more likely to notice unmet market demands. As a result, a varied workplace is bound to provide marketable products/services.
When members of a varied team represent different nationalities and races, it is easier for them to gain global market knowledge. Diverse members help to increase a company’s global market awareness. Diverse teams are best suited to develop products and services for the demographics they represent.
According to a study conducted by the Technical University of Munich, there is a favourable association between managerial diversity and creativity, which means that they earn more income from innovative products and services. “Companies with Blau Index scores above 0.59 (above the median) have generated 38% more of their revenues, on average, from innovative products and services in the most recent three-year period than did companies below the median,” the researchers noted in the BCG Study.
3. Employee engagement, retention and hiring
Diverse and inclusive organizations have better engagement with employees, which leads to greater job performance and increased production. Employees who feel involved and whose contributions are valued will be more motivated and are less likely to leave their workplace. Increased employee engagement, according to Gallup, can enhance revenues by an average of USD 2400 per employee per year.
Absenteeism lowers when employees feel included. According to another study by Deloitte, if just 10% more employees feel included, the organization will boost work attendance by nearly one day per year per employee. According to the findings, D&I contribute to engagement and must go hand in hand. The combined emphasis on diversity and inclusion results in the highest levels of participation.
According to prominent recruiting firms, top talent is searching for more than simply pay and benefits. According to Glassdoor, diversity is a factor that may influence a candidate’s decision to work for a company.
A diverse workforce is particularly essential for underrepresented groups: nearly one-third of employees and job seekers (32%) would not apply for a job at a company that lacks diversity.
4. Broader reach and enhanced brand recognition
Diversity and inclusion are concerns that affect entire societies, rather than just enterprises and corporations. Consumers notice when businesses take concrete measures toward these goals. People who were previously excluded are now clients since products and services are geared toward them as well. This has far-reaching implications: corporations attract and service more clients, which improves their reputation among a broader demographic and opens the door to more influence. When a company has demonstrated that it has a culture that promotes diversity and inclusion, it becomes more appealing to a wider audience.
A better reputation boosts a brand’s image. Today’s market is rapidly becoming one populated by the newer generation, who believe in inclusion. They expect diversity to be reflected in products, services, and marketing. We can see on social media that young generations not only appreciate brands that prioritize diversity but also criticize those that don’t. Diversity is crucial to these populations when it comes to brands.
5. Improved profitability
The benefits of D&I, as discussed above, is very likely to result in improved profitability. According to McKinsey Research, businesses that actively support diversity and inclusion policies are 35% more likely to produce above-average returns. And according to a study by Deloitte, companies with an inclusive culture are twice as likely to meet or surpass their financial targets.
Role of Organisations in D&I
Organisations can ensure D&I at the workplace is improved by designing an employee experience with clear strategies, formal structures and an alignment to the company values that utilize employees’ perspectives to prioritize, measure, and achieve progress. Here are three suggestions the management can take in collaboration with the D&I team to create a better, more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
Identify D&I priorities based on the company’s current state
Leaders need qualitative and quantitative data to fathom the current condition of the employee experience. It is a crucial assessment for establishing realistic, purposeful D&I goals and possible timeframes. Further laying out clear D&I goals is important. Some of the D&I goals include:
- Increasing the percentage of women employees and aiming for a better representation of women in leadership positions.
- Recruiting from diverse backgrounds depending upon the needs of the company, its global footprint and the markets it serves.
- Developing formal mentorship and training programs to improve awareness of D&I and to pursue its development and advancement in an equitable manner.
Considerations on how to create the organization’s future state
After D&I priorities are identified, the company’s leadership group must choose a dedicated team to manage and execute a strategy tailored to the plan. We must expect strong cross-functional collaboration on each D&I initiative, whether led by an ESG leader, Chief Diversity Officer, HR leader, D&I Committee leader, or any other business leader.
A strategy to maintain momentum
Clear expectations assist in ongoing individual and collective dedication. In addition, accountability must be embedded in D&I initiatives in an organization’s strategy. Both of these explicitly require commitment from the leadership.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is now fast becoming an organisational imperative. The success of companies who have implemented D&I is influencing other companies to join the bandwagon. Changed expectations of the new generations, who are now a dominant force in the marketplace, is also influencing this change. Looking at the D&I trends, it is clear that most companies are taking the necessary steps to implement strong D&I policies and programs to improve their workplaces in all aspects.
However implementation of D&I cannot be achieved individually but needs sincere efforts from the top management down to the last member of the employee chain. Leaders and HR teams have a huge responsibility for realizing the D&I goals, both in terms of investment and continued efforts. Clear vision and an effective plan is required to bring about this change. Overall, Diversity, and Inclusion (D&I) policies and programs are underway, and companies and employees must embrace them wholeheartedly.