Here Is Why Intentionally Investing In Diversity Is Worth The Effort
This month of June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month companies showcase new ways to show their support for diversity in the workplace, but how many of these efforts have an impact in the long-term? It turns out DEI (diversity, equality and inclusion) is a moving target. As per a BCG research, while the US alone spends an estimated $8 billion a year on DEI training, only half of the diverse employees feel there are mechanisms in place to ensure decisions are free from bias.
The impact of diversity
As per a pre-pandemic BCG research, diversity boosts innovation and also strengthens resilience. Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than companies with below-average leadership diversity—45% of total revenue versus just 26%. On the other hand, the impact of not being diverse translates to a smaller talent pool, more hiring costs and less collaboration, among others.
What is diversity anyway?
Increasing diversity or increasing the representation of certain demographic groups is an objective all companies should strive for. Still, the company must also focus on enabling these groups to contribute (inclusion) and advance their careers (equality).
It is also essential to understand that diversity is not about people who are not white and cisgender but about people with different needs. Certain demographic factors such as age or being an immigrant, being a caretaker for someone with cancer, or mental health challenges are examples of situations where employees may experience work differently, therefore may need more flexibility. Leaders should understand that anyone can be in any of these situations, so addressing diversity is critical to ensure they can help their teams work best no matter their circumstances.
Developing holistic solutions
While it is challenging to cater to all, a culture that welcomes diversity is essential. It is not only a matter of what HR does but how each individual behaves with the particular needs of their co-workers. Offering diversity and inclusion training, building diverse teams intentionally and making small changes in management positions are some of the most common strategies to start building a diverse culture.
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The BCG research suggests going a step forward and “think differently when developing solutions”.
– Identify the differences that matter to employees. “Rather than just assuming that “woman” or “LGBTQ” is the identity that matters most, organizations need to address other factors that may be much more important within that particular organization
– Recognize the bigger picture. There may be policies for women with children, but what about men that need to care for an elder? The research suggests that “By widening the aperture to “caretakers,” companies can support a much broader range of employees who are experiencing similar challenges”.
– Create holistic solutions. Offering three months of maternity or paternity leave is just a short-term benefit that doesn’t address the holistic needs of the employee. When these employees come back to work, they may need a more flexible schedule, or they may feel they cannot work as much as before and therefore, their growth opportunities will suffer. “Companies must identify these deeper needs—and devise a more holistic set of interventions and solutions that meet these needs and contribute to a sense of belonging and inclusion”.
It is time to see diversity as an opportunity, not as an obstacle. Companies may not have all the answers, but employees can propose long-term solutions that enable them to feel safe and collaborate more if leaders are open. Diversity will definitely pay in the long-term.