A recent HBR blog by Nilofer Merchant pointed to the recent race riots in Feguson, Missouri, USA as a tragic example of failure to create an inclusive workforce. Not only did one leader’s failure to be inclusive cost him his career and reputation, it impacted a whole community and put them under international scrutiny.
This may be an extreme example but business leaders need to think hard about the impact of being non-inclusive and not reflecting your customer base can have on your business. Great Leaders who make the Mix Work emphasises this importance stating that, “A diverse workforce also prevents an organization from becoming too insular and out of touch with its increasingly heterogeneous customer base. Many of the CEOs asserted that it is crucial for a company’s employees to reflect the people they serve.”
How can you build a truly inclusive workforce – one that attracts and engages people of all types and keeps the organization open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, new people, and new leadership?
We spoke to our Funding Partner Deloitte, who stated that while diversity programmes have existed for decades and many organizations promote diversity, most fail to realize the business benefits of a diverse workforce and inclusive workplace. Deloitte’s research shows a desire by companies to shift from diversity as a programme to diversity and inclusion as a business strategy. However, nearly one-third of companies in the global survey say they are unprepared in this area, while only 19% claim to be fully ready.
Nilofer Merchant points out that “desire” without action gives way to excuses that “the problem is out of their control.” She notes that commitment is central to leadership and that leaders determine what is done and not done in organizations. Outcomes are achieved by being intentional and deliberate.
To feel ‘included’ is a human right, a tool for valued engagement and a means to high-performing organizations. To be a part of this cultural evolution, we encourage organizations to create an environment of fairness and respect, where people recognise their own biases, deliberate or not, and place value in the differing perspectives of others. Where people feel a sense of value and belonging, the spark of confidence and inspiration will ignite.
Be the party starter and begin encouraging diversity of thought in your organization, start the discussions around understanding people’s differences and be a part of building a truly inclusive culture.