Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is more than just a buzzword. It’s an ongoing conversation that we all organisations need to be having.
Recent research has shown that diversity in the workplace is an important factor for business growth. A report by Deloitte found that companies with more diverse leadership teams are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns than their peers, and McKinsey & Company found that gender-diverse boards can improve shareholder value by 26%.
These reports highlight how organisations need to ensure they promote a culture of diversity and inclusion in order to be successful.
On the latest episode of the HR Think Tank podcast, our guest Cat-Thao Nguyen, CEO and Managing Director of Global Ready, shares her insights on the importance of inclusive leadership development and how organisations can effectively create a workplace culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
At the end of the day, “research shows that a sense of belonging engenders greater productivity, and inclusion engenders more return on cash flow per employee in the traditional metrics of an organisation’s success.”
What Does It Mean to Have a Diverse, Inclusive and Equitable Organisation?
According to Cat-Thao there is often an assumed understanding of what all these terms mean, “I think when people start talking about diversity, they automatically start talking about things like gender, sexual orientation and racial diversity. But that’s not an all-encompassing definition of what diversity really means.”
While diversity does indeed encompass those visible traits, the definition extends far beyond it. In fact, as humans we all have non-visible diversity traits too. For example, we all have inherent and acquired diversity traits.
Cat-Thao elaborates, “When I say ‘inherent’, – these are traits that you don’t have any control over. However, when it comes to acquired traits – these are the ones you have control over. For example, you may have chosen to study a new language.”
All of these traits, visible and invisible combined help us achieve a unique life experience and, therefore, perspective on things that we may not be conscious about.
Inclusion is where people are able to have their diversity traits recognised, celebrated and leveraged. And equity recognises the structural issues that have been limiting different groups from achieving their full potential.
Why Should Organisations Invest in Creating a Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Environment?
There are four main perspectives on why organisations should be an inclusive workplace.
The first perspective assesses the macro landscape of the organisation and the challenges it faces. For example, what worked for us in the past is not necessarily going to work for us in the future, “complex problems aren’t merely solved with expertise anymore. A junior staff member may have a different take on the problem than a veteran in that industry.”
There are countless examples in the real world of how inclusion has facilitated complex problem-solving.
The second perspective addresses innovation, “extensive research has shown if the executive leadership possesses different diversity traits, they can out-innovate their competitors and are 70% more likely to capture new markets.”
Next is the team perspective. Research shows that a sense of belonging engenders greater productivity, and inclusion engenders more return on cash flow per employee in the traditional metrics of an organisation’s success.
And lastly, you have the individual’s perspective. The modern leader shouldnt only focus on wealth accumulation as a competitive advantage anymore. The only competitive advantage that organisations have, is to have a phenomenal culture where people feel like they belong, “people will turn down jobs that pay significantly more to be at a place where they can fulfil their potential.”
How Do Companies Create a Culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
“First of all, I think that you need to look at your organisation and gather data. One of the most common challenges is assessing whether the leadership reflects the rest of the organisation.”
In other words, Cat-Thao emphasizes that you need to have a process of serious inquiry before you start implementing policies or putting together targets and quotas. And that inquiry phase is about uncovering what’s going on in your organisation.
Once you’ve collected the necessary data and started to understand what is really going on in your organisation, you should measure it in different ways. For example, ask your staff if they feel like there’s a sense of belonging and if the workplace culture is able to foster an inclusive environment.
What Challenges Do Organisations Face When Implementing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policies?
According to Cat-Thao, there are three common challenges that organisations face when implementing policies that focus on creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace. These include:
- Organisations treat symptoms but don’t treat the structural issues
- Organisations don’t take a holistic approach to the implementation strategy
- Organisations under-invest
In other words, they don’t spend time doing requisite inquiries to harvest the information to diagnose what is really going on. As a result, they’re unable to address the problems with a holistic approach and they don’t invest enough from a public communications perspective.
Diversity goes to the core of who we are as individuals, including our beliefs, values and ways of thinking. If you take this into consideration when recruiting new employees, you will be more likely to hire someone who fits in with your organisation’s culture.
This can also help build better relationships amongst colleagues which improves productivity levels across the board.
There are many different aspects to diversity and inclusion which means there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, if you start by recognising that all people have value then it should lead to a healthier and more inclusive workplace environment.
Make sure to tune into HR Think Tank Episode 13 with Khai Ngo and Cat-Thao Nguyen.
Or, if you would like to know more about our VerfiyNow’s recruitment services, get in touch with us today!