Why Diversity And Inclusion Are Crucial In Times Of Disruption

In times of increasing disruption and uncertainty, companies need to continue to prioritize diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) for the benefit of their culture — and their bottom line.

Catalyst recently released research based on a number of studies over the last few years which suggest that D&I help to recruit and retain top talent; improve creativity, innovation and performance; and boost a company’s brand among consumers. Additional research from the World Economic Forum indicates that companies that champion D&I are also more profitable.

Yet, recent insight from DiversityQ indicates that as organizations switch to survival mode to address the impacts of a global pandemic, “anything that is considered ‘nice to have’ is being jettisoned, with senior stakeholders unable to prioritize anything that isn’t absolutely key to the business.”

The stark and penetrable reality is that D&I are not “nice to haves.” They are “absolutely key to the business.”

Now, more than ever before, companies need an agile and diverse workforce, guided by inclusive leaders who can draw out their people’s fullest potential. To achieve this, companies need to nurture workforces that reflect the communities in which their people live. Here are three ways we at EY have found to embed a D&I culture to help build a better working world.

1. Cultivate a sense of belonging.

A strong sense of belonging has multiple benefits for organizations. It can lead to better collaboration, employee retention and improved business performance. When people feel as if they belong, they are more motivated and engaged. They can feel free to be themselves and have psychological trust in offering different points of view without negative repercussions. And they believe that their contributions matter.MORE FOR YOU50 Mantras That’ll Help You Through Every Difficult Situation In LifeTarget Sales Just Shocked Wall Street. Here’s How CEO Brian Cornell Did It.Murdered, Suffocated And Burned Alive: 350 Transgender People Killed In 2020

During the pandemic, where increased physical distancing has been mandatory, creating a sense of belonging has been important for the well-being of the workforce. At EY, we host virtual open forum sessions where employees can listen and learn from one another. We’re also promoting our online D&I learning resources and asset libraries, where people can download assets such as wallpapers and backgrounds to show D&I pride and further promote the importance of an inclusive working environment to their extended networks.

2. Apply the preference, tradition and requirement (PTR) model.

Biases are part of human nature. Some are conscious; others are unconscious. To help leaders reflect on their biases, EY uses a preference, tradition and requirement (PTR) model. Rather than a one-and-done program, PTR is a decision-making strategy that asks leaders to regularly pause and consider diversity and inclusion when creating their high-performance teams. PTR helps leaders to continuously assess their preferences toward candidates similar to themselves, explore whether traditional characteristics of a role or outcome may be coloring their judgment and make decisions based on the requirements of the post or team, rather than either of the first two factors. This strategy allows people to question the status quo without accusing colleagues of being biased.

3. Use a roadmap to track improvements to company culture.

Within the organization, our own internal analysis suggests that groups with leading-class engagement demonstrate eight percentage points higher better retention, four points higher revenue growth and eight points higher gross margin. In charting a roadmap for D&I success, we use a continuum along which we’ve posted four milestones:

• Establish a baseline and cascade awareness: During this initial stage, the organization sets the tone at the top, gathers data and looks for inconsistencies.

• Identify meaningful change: At the second milestone, organizations will want to review talent and business processes with an inclusive lens and assess and encourage flexibility.

• Recognize and reward role models: At this point in the journey, leaders will want to recognize everyday actions that demonstrate inclusive teaming and share stories from and about inclusive leaders.

• Enable culture change: At the far end of the continuum, it’s time to set specific goals, then monitor and communicate progress.

Leaders must strive to consistently reach the fourth milestone and consistently sustain a D&I culture. Some parts of our organization have reached the far end of the continuum, while other parts are working hard to make progress. Regardless of where teams are today, expect the entire organization and all team members to move up the continuum.

Embrace D&I For A Stronger Culture And Stronger Financial Performance

As a growing number of global voices call out for more diverse and inclusive opportunities, now is the time to fully embrace D&I as a strategic business imperative. Companies that embed D&I into their cultural fabric, rather than apply it as window dressing, will find they can reap a host of rewards for their effort — from stronger culture, higher creativity and access to new talent pools to boosting the bottom line.

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