Diversity and inclusion has been hot in the headlines as of late, with a number of high-profile organisations coming under scrutiny for failing to create a diverse workforce, despite their foiled attempts to do so.
And while there is a growing awareness amongst organisations for the demand to embrace workplace diversity from a corporate responsibility angle, there are a number of equally compelling pulls from a business standpoint.
Greater diversity in the workplace leads to greater diversity of behaviours, attitudes and attributes – which in turn will result in your organisation better reflecting the makeup of your customer base.
Here’s why creating a diverse and inclusive corporate culture is worthwhile:
The true value of diversity: more than playing nice
The gender pay-gap, increased diversity in the boardroom, the treatment of employees from minority backgrounds; these topics have sparked many organisations to have some serious discussions about their existing talent management strategies.
And while making steps to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce is beneficial from a moral standpoint, there is far more to diversity and inclusion than attempting to even out the playing field.
Organisations with a good mix of male and female employees are 15% more likely to outperform their competition, according to research by McKinsey, while those with employees from a good mix of ethnic backgrounds are 35% more likely to be overtaking the opposition.
Alongside increased employee performance, workplaces that can demonstrate diversity are more likely to attract talent in years to come.
Generally speaking, millennial workers tend to favour organisations that reflect their own personal objectives – so, essentially, having a diverse workforce will attract a diverse range of talent.
According to a study by PwC, 86% of female millennials said organisational policy on diversity and workforce inclusion was an important factor when choosing an employer.
Reflecting your diverse customer base
As a rule, employers tend to favour individuals that reflect the same (or similar) qualities or characteristics that they see in themselves - often on a sub-conscious level. (In layman’s terms, employers are more inclined to hire “People like us” – i.e. middle-aged, white males hire other middle-aged, white males.)
While this can be of great advantage to people who fit into a particular category, those who fall outside the box can easily find themselves missing out on job opportunities or promotions as a result.
But we live in an increasingly diverse world, and in order to establish deeper connections with customers, organisations need a workforce that reflects the same diverse nature of their customer base.
Organisations with a diverse workforce can respond to customers in a more authentic manner by collaborating with the many different perspectives, backgrounds and lifestyles at their disposal – consequently driving business success with innovative ideas and problem-solving approaches.
Leaders need to lead the way
Fashioning a diverse, inclusive culture demands an internal shift in mindset – and, in order for this to take place, senior leaders need to set the precedent.
With evidence indicating that diversity within organisations needs to start at the top and channel down, leaders must start holding themselves and others accountable for seeing through diversity and inclusion initiatives.
It’s worth noting that your organisation’s diversity and inclusion initiatives need to be deeply rooted in your overall business objectives in order for them to succeed. Your first step is to define what success looks like within your organisations - otherwise you run the risk of forming half-baked ideas that aren’t seen through to fruition.
Gathering hard data on demographics and representation within your organisation, requesting and assessing employee feedback, and benchmarking the performance of diverse employees against peers are some of many ways to measure impact.
When it comes to attracting diverse talent, there are numerous approaches organisations can put in place, such as developing bespoke attraction and sourcing campaigns, tapping into diverse talent pools, and developing a sustainability programme.
And by assessing progress on an ongoing basis, leaders can not only pinpoint their successes, but also re-examine their challenges and areas for improvement, and adjust their objectives accordingly.
The workplace is changing, and so is the workforce. For organisations to retain a relevant and relatable connection with customers, embracing a diverse and modern workforce is a necessity. For more advice on incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives into your talent strategy, get in touch with the Morgan Philips Group team today.