Diversity and inclusion efforts are ‘de rigueur’ for almost all organizations. Organizations understand that today, they cannot be successful on a global platform in the absence of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are no longer just about creating a heterogeneous workforce. Instead, they are about employing such a workforce to drive innovation and creativity that influences everything – from products to services to business practices and create unique competitive differentiation in an overcrowded marketplace.
But why do we say that diversity and inclusion are essential for creativity, high performance, and innovation? How do diversity and innovation influence these aspects of organizational performance?
Here is a look.
Access to a range of skills
Diversity and Inclusion are good for business. Even at the most superficial level, hiring people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders helps organizations access greater skills and close the skills gap.
This can be a great boon across industries that are facing a skills crunch. Technology, for example, is accelerating at breakneck speed. New technologies such as data science, IoT, AI becoming more mainstream while there is a huge skills gap here.
Diversity and inclusion help organizations close the skills gap by opening up the talent market for them. Along with the needed skills, organizations also get access to different viewpoints and perspectives. All of these contribute towards greater and better outcomes.
More diversity equals more global pathways
Diversity and inclusion are essential to maintain competitive differentiation and high performance as the world has become a global market.
Diverse and inclusive workforces can contribute to building relevance and context and help organizations serve customers better. They can help organizations become more respectful of client cultures and gain valuable insights into markets they reflect.
As organizations move to global platforms, promoting diversity and inclusion helps in meeting the diverse needs of the customers. Mattel, for example, leveraged employee diversity to drive innovation when they wanted to launch a line of dolls marketed to African-American girls. They leveraged the inputs from MAAF, Mattel’s African-American Employee Resource Group, and ensured that the dolls were culturally sensitive. “So In Style,” is one of the best-selling, minority-focused brands today.
Drive talent strategies
The C-suite is now in complete agreement that acquiring the best talent is critical to business success as it increases speed and competitiveness. Almost 90% of leaders believe that talent is a source of value creation and competitive advantage. But what does the talent want?
Talent today wants a workforce that is diverse and inclusive. Millennials, the dominant population in the workforce today, consider diversity to be a significant factor to influence them to choose an organization. Younger job seekers belonging to Generation Z want to work with organizations committed to diversity and inclusion.
A focus on diversity and inclusion thus strengthens talent management strategies and helps organizations build high-performing and engaged teams.
Equity pools drive performance
The workforce now wants to see organizations deliver on the diversity and inclusion commitment and want them to build equity pools. They want organizations to enable allyship and help augur women’s leadership to shatter the glass ceiling. They want to see organizations building power skills that break unconscious bias and social conditioning seriously and with intent. They want opportunities to grow and expect assistance to build networks needed for growth.
Those organizations that successfully build equity by focusing on diversity and inclusion automatically get high-performing teams owing to elevated levels of engagement, a desire to do more, and access to opportunities.
Respect drives revolutionary engagement
Varied voices and multiple viewpoints cover a wide range of experiences. This experience, when leveraged well, drives innovation across the organization. To achieve this, organizations have to create an environment that allows everyone to come together, bring their views, and feel respected and heard.
Battling social conditioning and unconscious bias thus becomes essential. Increasing learning and removing judgment become important. Building an understanding of how our unique differences add greater character is critical to building a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.
Real innovation and creativity happen when different cultures, ideas, thoughts, and disciplines come together, and spark off new solutions by removing associative barriers, reversing assumptions, and exposing cultural differences that encourage trying on different perspectives.
Organizations need to help all employees and leaders build their emotional vocabulary to drive diversity and inclusion. When we help them identify how social conditioning is at work and how it drives inequity, then they are less likely to conform to ideas that impede diversity and inclusion. When we help them identify how rules keep changing according to gender, they are more likely to be more sensitive in their interactions and unlikely to make comments that negatively impact a certain section.
We need to, for example, stop giving in to conditioning that says, “women are too emotional to lead” and believe that while women might not display the same aggression as their male counterparts, they are still competent enough to lead. When we help drive a behavioral change, then we succeed in creating an enabling environment for ‘all’.
Diversity and inclusion matter because there is strength in numbers. Those who understand this will have a more engaged, creative, high-performing, and innovative workforce. Those who don’t will be trying hard to catch up in the future.
Connect with us to see how an AI-powered peer coaching platform can drive diversity and inclusion across your organization and drive employee performance and engagement.