Just starting to focus on diversity and inclusion?
Working out the business case?
While many organisations now understand the business rationale and are investing to increase their workforce diversity, we recognise that some have yet to fully embrace the business case and focus on making diversity and inclusion progress.
When you are starting to focus on diversity and inclusion, it can often raise a number of questions and it's important you have a clear picture of the diversity-related challenges and opportunities within your workforce. That's why one of the first steps we recommend is to conduct a Diversity & Inclusion Diagnostic. A robust diagnostic uncovers structural and cultural challenges (including organisational biases) that inhibit a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Another component is to have a well documented and researched business case that links your diversity and inclusion efforts with your specific business and talent management objectives. A business case that is specific to your organisation has the most impact in driving internal support and transformation, and we can help you to craft this.
Developing a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy with action plans, measures, and governance frameworks is an important key early step.
+ Business case
To assist your thinking on your business case, here's an outline of some of the key advantages of a diverse workforce and inclusive culture.
INNOVATION, COLLABORATION & PROBLEM-SOLVING
International research shows that diverse teams of problem-solvers outperform groups of the best individuals in creating solutions.
Diverse teams are consistently more innovative in their solutions than homogenous teams, where ‘group-think’ is a risk. Diverse and inclusive teams are more innovative because they have a wider set of experiences, approaches and resources to draw upon.
Flexible teams are typically more adaptive and responsive to rapid changes in business conditions and priorities because they already communicate, collaborate and deliver results in ways which are far less restricted by time and place, and which exploit technology to full advantage.
Co-workers who understand and respect individual differences collaborate more effectively and with less conflict.
CUSTOMERS AND CLIENTS
Leading companies in Australia and Asia increasingly recognise the importance of reflecting their customer or client base in order to deepen relationships, and better anticipate and meet their needs.
A workforce which is as diverse as its customer or client base can more effectively: understand and anticipate member needs – which enables proactive tailoring of solutions, services, advice and information; personalise communications and interactions; develop deeper connections to engage more meaningfully with members.
Developing products and services which meet the needs of a broad range of diverse customers, can help to increase market share. In a competitive marketplace, customers (and suppliers) of all backgrounds are increasingly selective in the organisations to which they give their custom or business.
Research and organisational experience indicate that diverse teams consistently outperform homogeneous teams and produce stronger (business) outcomes – provided an inclusive culture operates, where all ideas or contributions are valued and considered.
Employees at all levels who are valued and included, irrespective (or because) of their individual differences, and who can ‘be themselves’ at work are typically more engaged, motivated and therefore productive.
Businesses with gender diverse leadership financially outperform those with less diversity over time. Business benefits emerge most effectively when organisations achieve a critical mass of 30% or more women at each level across the organisation.
Work and career flexibility have been shown by studies and employee surveys to be a major driver of employee engagement and retention.
Talent is not found in just one particular demographic. To consistently attract and retain the best talent, organisations need to appeal to people from every background. Strengthen capability and talent management processes to ensure that talent pools and pipelines are diverse, representative of our customers and stakeholders, and genuinely merit-based.
GOVERNANCE & RISK
Diverse teams that operate inclusively can manage and mitigate risk more effectively by avoiding sub-optimal decision-making associated with ‘group-think’. Inclusive work environments encourage a ‘speak up’ culture which enables issues to be addressed.
Increasingly, organisations recognise the importance of understanding the diverse needs of the communities in which they operate and responding authentically. Their brands and reputations are impacted by influential community views, which therefore have a commercial impact.
REGULATORS AND INVESTORS
The ASX Corporate Governance Council requires each listed company in Australia to establish and disclose to the market their diversity policy, including measurable objectives relating to gender, and their performance against these. The expectations of shareholders and investors are increasing in relation to the governance of public companies, including the gender (and other) diversity of their boards and executive teams.