Why bother with diversity and inclusion?

 

If you are one of those who read this title and then immediately decide to click away, then this HR Blast is particularly relevant to you! If you are serious about the job you do that is. Go on… have a read. It should only take a couple of minutes.

These are some of the comments we hear from company directors, line managers and HR people about diversity and inclusion:

  • I’m bored with the whole topic.
  • I think we cracked this diversity stuff a decade ago.
  • I think that diversity is all about giving a few selfish people working patterns that suit them but are a nightmare for the business.
  • I don’t see what diversity has to do with running the business and making a profit.

But diversity and inclusion isn’t about the fluffy stuff any more. This is serious business. Report after report over the past few years has shown that even just diversifying the senior team results in faster growth and higher profits. Shall we repeat that? Faster growth and higher profits! This is now a case of ‘ignore this at your peril’!

Generating faster growth and higher profits

So how can successfully implemented diversity strategies actually generate faster growth and higher profits? Below we look at just two areas that can be positively impacted by good diversity policies:

Staffing

  • Improving retention rates thereby reducing the cost of employing and training up new staff and providing less disruption for clients/customers.
  • Improving employee relations, which increases productivity and reduces the management time required to manage staff issues.
  • Reducing absence or attendance rates which both improves productivity and reduces sick pay and also, in some businesses, overtime and temp agency bills.
  • Ensuring your talent pool at recruitment stage (and also when succession planning) is really wide – and wider than your competitors.

Innovation and change

Minimising the impact of ‘group thinking’. When all the directors are so comfortable and familiar with each other there can be a tendency for everyone to agree all the time. This means no one challenges the thinking or strategies in the business.

Innovating with a diverse team. This is likely to produce very different results to innovating with a team where everyone has the same background, education, religion etc. If you have a diverse customer base then you need diverse thinking and a diverse offering to best service that customer base.

The marketplace is increasingly global and culturally diverse. This can be best served by having staff and leaders who have a good grasp of both international and cultural issues. Diversity ‘ignorance’ can lose sales, lose customers and limit entry into market places your competitors are already entering.

Still not bought into putting time and effort into diversity and inclusion?

These are the reasons why senior teams continue to ignore this message:

  • Apathy
  • Belligerence
  • Lack of understanding of how it can create competitive advantage
  • Fear of changing the status quo
  • Lack of vision and strategic thinking
  • Risk aversion so great within the business that it regularly stalls change

This last point is an interesting one. For serious risk aversion can stop you from making your business more diverse and inclusive, however, it has got to be a far greater commercial risk to let your business stand still, whilst the community and world is changing around you.

Moving forwards

And finally, for those ready to focus on diversity and inclusion, here are Jaluch’s 5 steps to creating a workforce and culture that will lead to faster growth and greater profits.

Assessment. Assess where you are now, auditing across your business. Essentially, the more time you take to audit and research where you are now, the better information you will have when moving forwards. You will also avoid ‘blindspots’ if you use someone from outside your organisation to undertake this audit.

Opportunities. Identify where the opportunities lie for addressing diversity and inclusion issues. During this process consider management ideas, staff ideas, customer ideas, competitors’ ideas and perhaps even ideas that come from your industry or professional body. And if you are stuck for a little inspiration, check out our fascinating infographic on unconscious bias… do you only recruit men over 6 foot tall?

Plan of action. Now you have the information and ideas, its time to work out what it is financially and commercially sensible to implement and the priority for doing that. Include in your plan, your key measurements for success. It’s critical to understand where diversity and inclusion adds value to your business and what that value is.

Implementation. To begin this stage you need to start by educating your staff and managers about why this is important for your business. Don’t aim for a big launch that slowly fizzles away to nothing. That’s simply a waste of time and money. Aim to implement a bit of your plan each month across the first year. This way, you stand a good chance of achieving genuine and sustainable cultural change over a period of time.

Review and revise. With diversity and inclusion there is no one size fits all. No golden solution as every workforce and every culture is different. So month by month keep reviewing what you are doing, why you are doing it and what it is changing. Keep communicating with staff and managers and keep revising your plan to ensure that at all times you have the best possible chance of positively impacting your growth and profits.

And one last thought to spur you on… A business with 150 staff was typically paying around £480K a year to recruitment agencies. An audit identified that nearly 50% of new recruits were leaving within a year because they didn’t like the culture and management style.

After working on diversity and inclusion issues, just one year later they had reduced their agency bill to just £20K! And they didn’t even put a value on what the improved retention rates meant to the business in terms of client satisfaction, employee productivity and employee morale etc.

Interested in this topic? Want more detail or would value talking through ideas for your business? Perhaps you would value a workshop or training in diversity and inclusion? Whatever support you need, please do get in touch or visit our diversity and inclusion training page.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individuals matters.

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