Promoting and increasing workplace diversity and inclusivity (D&I) is a critical endeavour that many organisations are currently pursuing. Aside from the fact that it’s the right thing to do, smart business leaders understand the numerous benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Research shows that companies with more diverse teams outperform those with a more homogeneous workforce. A 2018 research from McKinsey found that greater diversity in the workforce results in greater profitability and value creation.
Diversity at the executive level is especially crucial. The McKinsey report shows that there’s a statistically significant link between diverse leadership in an organisation and better financial performance. Organisations in the top quartile for ethnic diversity in their leadership are 33% more likely than those in the bottom quartile to enjoy above-average profitability.
The research also found that organisations in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to achieve above-average profitability compared to those in the lowest quartile.
Beyond the financial performance, companies have to implement D&I to comply with government regulations and meet shareholder expectations. In today’s workplaces, current employees and potential hires are also applying pressure on organisations to have more diversity and inclusion–which has been shown to improve the overall employee experience.
While many companies aspire to have a diverse and inclusive workplace, a lot of them are failing at this endeavour. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for successfully creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. However, various best practices can help your organisation attract, engage, and retain diverse talent. Let’s explore those practices:
“While many companies aspire to have a diverse and inclusive workplace, a lot of them are failing at this endeavour. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for successfully creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.”
Make Diversity and Inclusivity a Core Value
To build a diverse and inclusive workplace, your organisation’s core values should reflect this aspiration. To embed diversity and inclusion as a core value, companies should make sure that all their practices embrace, appreciate, and support differences in age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, physical abilities and so on.
As a core value, diversity and inclusion create a welcoming environment for talented individuals from different backgrounds. It assures them that they’ll be accorded respect and support, allowing them to bring their authentic selves to work.
Companies that embed diversity and inclusivity are better equipped to respond to the demands of an ever-evolving business environment. Diverse teams can consider data from many perspectives to inform more effective planning, development, and execution of strategy. People with a diverse set of skills, experiences, characteristics, and backgrounds also contribute to higher levels of creativity and innovation.
Start With Diversity and Inclusivity at the Top
As we’ve noted, diversity at the executive level is especially important. Start by evaluating your executive team. Do they portray diversity and inclusion?
The makeup of your top management team sends a strong message about how much you value embracing a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. Consider all aspects of diversity including gender diversity, ethnic diversity, and more.
You may not have much influence over the composition of the executive team in your organisation–but if you do, use it to make a case for D&I in the C-suite.
It’s also important to have executive buy-in on D&I, instead of the initiative being viewed as an HR-exclusive venture. For real change to happen, each leader in the organisation must buy into the value of belonging for each employee, regardless of their background. Only when the entire executive team owns D&I as a core value can an organisation’s diversity and inclusion initiatives thrive.
With diversity and inclusion being a cove value, companies should also hold their executives accountable on that front. For instance, organisations can institute tracking and reporting systems to measure the progress of D&I goals in each division. Leaders can be held accountable–with part of their performance evaluation tied to achieving diversity and inclusion goals.
Promote an Inclusive Workplace Culture
While hiring goals can boost your organisation’s diversity numbers, you have to do more to create a truly inclusive workplace culture. Too often business leaders and managers focus D&I efforts disproportionately on the employee pipeline, but the employee experience continues far beyond recruitment.
To have an inclusive workplace culture, companies need to take a critical and honest look at their end-to-end employee experience. The goal is to create conditions that promote inclusion daily and devise ways to measure the impact.
All of an organisation’s processes from sourcing and recruiting to hiring, onboarding, team building, performance reviews, and succession planning should be inclusive.
Inclusion shouldn’t be a one-off training for an organisation either. Like any form of culture change, inclusion requires continuous effort and the building of new habits. Identify change agents within your organisation outside the executive level and equip them with skills and information to champion inclusion in their departments.
“To have an inclusive workplace culture, it’s important for companies to take a critical and honest look at their end-to-end employee experience. The goal is to create conditions that promote inclusion daily and devise ways to measure the impact.”
Get Employee Feedback and Measure Progress of Diversity and Inclusivity Initiatives
Like with any other organisational initiative, you have to track the progress and success of diversity and inclusion initiatives. One of the best ways to do so is by getting employee feedback on the workplace culture.
Here are some sample agree/disagree questions to include in your survey:
- I see strong leadership support for the firm’s value of diversity and inclusion.
- I believe that people of all cultures and backgrounds are respected and valued here.
- I am comfortable talking about my background and cultural experiences with my colleagues.
- Management demonstrates a commitment to meeting the needs of employees with disabilities.
- There is a career development path for all employees at this firm.
To get honest feedback, consider going for an anonymous company-wide survey. Such surveys give employees an avenue to be heard without the fear of being victimised–ultimately strengthening healthy workplace culture.
Bear in mind that measuring the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives isn’t as straightforward as other data-oriented projects. It takes long-term tracking, benchmarking, and qualitative measurement. Therefore, it’s important to stay on track even if you don’t immediately have tangible metrics to report.
That said, some measurable elements to use include percentage changes in leadership demographics and the demographic makeup of employees. Combined with feedback from surveys, these factors can show if you’re making progress on your D&I goals.
“Bear in mind that measuring the success of diversity and inclusion initiatives isn’t as straightforward as other data-oriented projects. It takes long-term tracking, benchmarking, and qualitative measurement.”
In the ever-evolving business environment, people are one of the most important drivers of success. As the world continues to become increasingly interconnected, your employees will become increasingly diverse in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, economic background, sexual orientation, religion and so on.
Harnessing and merging the thoughts and experiences of this broad group of employees is a major benefit to your company and a key factor in its success. It’s, therefore, important for organisations to regularly review their culture, values, and policies to build a more diverse and inclusive culture.
Cedar Africa is here to help you in every step in your quest to build a diverse and inclusive workplace—from recruiting top talent to training change champions in your organisation. To get started, speak to one of our talent consultants today.