One of the more rewarding aspects of our profession is assisting and observing as individuals across different lines of business unite to address change.
While every company and scenario is unique, we’ve noticed one promising element that is driving successful outcomes: diversity.
Companies with diverse management teams and workforces provide various benefits, including the ability to develop creative solutions that resonate with the customers they serve.
While it all sounds simple and makes good business sense, the reality is that many companies are only slowly adapting initiatives that promote and embrace diversity and inclusion. And according to research conducted by Accenture, there is a disconnect between the percentage of leaders (68%) and employees (38%) who feel they are part of an empowering work environment.
Here are a few ways that organizations can benefit from a greater focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) to give them an edge over the competition while contributing to the communities they live and work in.
Perspective: Through our meetings with different stakeholder groups, we are always amazed at the passion people have in sharing their insight and ideas based on their culture, generation and varied experiences.
Often, each team or department we huddle with has something unique to share, and the energy and contributions build as they see their input is valued – by us, and then their sponsors and leadership team.
During times of change, it’s more vital than ever to get feedback from individuals with different experiences and perspectives. By opening up a dialogue across multiple business areas, you can identify potential blind spots, avoid groupthink and arrive at new processes or paths that can drive not only successful outcomes but also new business and future leaders.
Innovation: Over the past decade, we’ve learned first-hand that taking the initiative to encourage different perspectives can spark ingenuity and innovative solutions and products.
Diverse teams and organizations tend to be more open to change and also more agile and able to adjust to transformation, which ultimately leads to growth and prosperity. This is supported by a 2017 Deloitte study that found organizations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
Reach: While your organization may enjoy a dominant position in the market today, it doesn’t mean that it will always be the case. Markets, tastes and people change – something Pepsi-Co recognized when it released a unique marketing campaign for its Doritos label to the coveted Gen Z crowd last August to address their aversion to advertising and branding.
Closer to home, Bank of Canada executive Carolyn Wilkins highlighted recently how the government is devising new ways to connect with Canadians to influence future policy decisions. One focus is being more inclusive in the consultations it organizes since its policies affect everyone it serves.
Sustainability: Embracing diversity can also ensure that the start-up or conglomerate that you are leading can survive and thrive well into the future.
One mining company that we worked with developed a diversity strategy to attract and retain staff in a sector well-known for its scarcity of talent. Instead of just hoping for the best, they took the initiative to become an employer of choice, which has helped them rise above others in their competitive field.
Another company we’ve partnered with in financial services created a Diversity and Inclusion Council that was employee-led to foster a culture of diversity and a sense of belonging and empowerment.
Other sectors – such as education and insurance – are creating initiatives such as placements or leadership programs to welcome aboard students with intellectual disabilities or ensure more women are part of executive teams that make crucial decisions.
For examples of other programs that worth considering, visit the website of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2020.
Aim high for D&I:
While many organizations deserve credit for placing a focus on diversity and inclusion, the reality is that there is much more work to do. Sponsoring a program or leading a pilot is an excellent start, but it shouldn’t be considered a one-off event. Instead, it should be a core part of any company’s strategic plan, particularly since people are your most valuable asset.
If you are looking for guidance on how to create a specialized approach for your organization – or want to share initiatives that have had a meaningful impact – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear about them.