January 15, 2019

3 Reasons Why D&I Can Give Your Company the Competitive Edge

Wanda Sanders

Wanda Sanders
President & CEO/ACQU Energy Inc.

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"Every day that goes by, the world is becoming more diverse. Companies that want to be leaders in their industries will have to be diverse and inclusive."

 

When I started my career in Silicon Valley, I often heard the retort "Make the business case" when there was a discussion about diversity and inclusion (D&I). This myopic and dense agreement grew really tiresome—to have to make the case why D&I is important. It basically translates to, "Convince me why the organization should want to hire women, people of color, etc.."

All companies should take an honest assessment of how they have arrived at this non-diverse, non-inclusive work environment that does not mirror the society that we all inhabit. This means having a tough conversation, not silencing dissent and actually hearing what others have to say.  Ideas and ideologies cannot and should not be fired or quieted. As a society, we are at an inflection point that requires deep organization introspection on what got us here and what we can collectively do to move forward.

 

Making Diversity a High Priority Improves an Organization's Performance

 

This may sound controversial, but I think it's time to take a deeper look at inclusion, belonging and support instead of just diversity. The singular approach has not borne much fruit when the emphasis is on diversity alone. It's more complex than just improving numbers. It needs to be comprehensive, intentional and for any plan/strategy to work, people in your organization must stay the course.

Over the years, I have been asked what we can do that is innovative and groundbreaking in the D&I space, but I believe that's the wrong question. The problem is not innovation; it is the collective intention or lack thereof. The number one reason progress has not advanced is because D&I is not prioritized. It is fundamentally a lack of will and sustained follow-through. A comprehensive tool such as change management is needed for organizations to conduct some organizational assessments to move forward.

 

A Diverse Workforce Better Understands Diverse Consumers = Happier Customers

 

Diversity & Inclusion go beyond appearing 'cool'. It has an inherent dollar value, ROI, and it can become any company's competitive advantage. Your diverse workforce understands your diverse consumer. For any consumer-facing company, it is essential to understand the biases, reservations, aspirations and ambitions of its consumer.

Consumer insight is one way to do it, but the personal experience of your workforce can deliver the personalized experiences you want your consumers to have. Today, your consumer base is the most diverse that it has ever been in the past.

Organizations that capitalize on its diverse voices and include these voices in decision-making are the ones that will truly thrive in our new inclusive societies.

 

A Diverse Organization Is More Attractive to an Increasingly Diverse Workforce

 

Cross-cultural intelligence drives better decision-making and emotional quotient-driven client servicing.  Also, it has been proven the intellectual capital of a diverse workforce is also known to propel creativity, innovation and initiative. It encourages authentic engagement with your clients, consumers, vendors, partners and potential workforce.

It also enhances your organization's reputation making it more attractive to the hyper clued-in, empathetic millennial generation. According to a Deloitte study whose results were published in Fast Company, "Millennials view diversity as the blending of different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives within a team, which is known as cognitive diversity. Millennials view cognitive diversity as a necessary element for innovations and are 71% more likely to focus on teamwork." The study also found that a whopping 83 percent of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture.

So, yes, there is ROI after all! It is clear effective D&I staffing/recruiting strategies and inclusion measures and measurement processes prove that it is good for the bottom line.

Why not make this one of your company's competitive advantages by focusing on the importance of D&I and communicating the business benefits of it instead of just treating it as a charitable and feel-good cause? Companies that embrace and implement D&I will have a competitive advantage over their competitors that don't. Every day that goes by, the world is becoming more diverse. Companies that want to be leaders in their industries will have to be diverse and inclusive.

Comments? You can contact me directly via my ExecRanks profile.

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