Opinion: Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity drives healthier organizational cultures — financially and culturally. Progressive organisations commit to strategic shifts towards a more innovative leadership team that inspire innovation among a nimble workforce.

Here are some of my thoughts around the criticality of diversity and inclusion on your organisation’s efficiency and profitability:

  • Diversity of cultures, genders, backgrounds and experiences in your senior leadership suite attracts and inspires a similar diversity across your organisation
  • Recruiting from the same “golden circle” allows risk-averse and innovation-poor group-think to persist; you only get different outcomes if you choose different strategies — group-think stifles this
  • The language used in job descriptions will determine the candidates attracted to the role. Again, if you’re looking for dynamic leadership but are relying on over-used corporate speak, you won’t attract independent thinkers and problem-solvers, nor will you attract leaders who perform strongly when autonomous or are highly adept at motivating teams and inspiring clients
  • Women become more ambitious about senior roles as their career progresses but are often passed over for promotion way before they exit the workforce to raise families. And raising families is not the main barrier — an absence of roadmaps early on in their careers and a poor link to and re-entry programs from former employers are the two key hindrances to women’s ambitions to re-join the workforce. Address these two issues and you will set course for a healthier workforce profile in the mid to longer term future
  • Having a diverse leadership team that is open to introducing new and flexible working practices coupled with customised coaching and mentoring programs helps organizations embrace the energy and mindset of millennials instead of viewing them as annoying upstarts
  • Understanding that, in general, women actively and unconsciously under-rate and under-represent their own abilities and performance for reasons of modesty or because of cultural conditioning. This tendency means that a traditional recruitment approach will eliminate equally capable candidates and take away your opportunity to secure a rich leadership profile that outshines competitors on attitudes to risk, innovation and strategic decision-making
  • In a period of workforce history where employee engagement is at an all-time low, it makes good business sense to change your leadership profile for greater diversity so that your organisation can benefit from increased trust, stronger ethical standards and have a better shot at creating a self-sustaining coaching culture

Companies with a higher level of diversity in the boardroom were found to typically implement stronger governance mechanisms and pursued more breakthrough product improvements. | Lu Hong and Scott Page, 2004

While in recent years the focus has been on diversity in the boardroom and the impact on a company’s risk profile and bottom line results, having a diverse leadership team works like a chocolate fountain — it trickles down and permeates the entire fabric of organizations. That’s when you know you’ve got a good thing going.