Diversity is a Strategic Advantage

Relegating the responsibility for diversity to HR hasn’t worked. Diversity in selection as well as in succession planning has become a CEO issue in many companies (For more on this topic, click here). The best CEOs and leaders see the importance of diversity and inclusion as critical to their strategy for growth, their brand and employee engagement – all leading to high performance.

Research shows that a diverse team is more innovative than teams comprised of people who are more similar. Initially, getting the diverse team on the same page may take longer, however the benefits usually outweigh the time invested. The ability to build diverse teams continues to be a key competency for leaders as we become more networked together globally.

The most frequently used methods to address diversity have been setting quotas, tracking and training. These have not shown the benefits at the pace necessary for companies and their cultures to change. The bigger solution is to create a culture of inclusion. How do you start? Here are some recommendations:

  • CEO outlines and holds all accountable for diversity and inclusion goals in areas such as recruitment, promotion, pay, development and succession planning
  • Companies measure inclusion, diversity, and engagement and hold dialogue on the results
  • Companies define their core values, one of which can be inclusion (This may be aspirational and not necessarily reflective of the current culture.)
  • Diversity is defined, talked about and brought to life with stories and examples
  • Inclusion and transparency are seen as core competencies for leaders and they receive regular feedback on how they are doing
  • As part of accountability, there are consequences when people in the organization do not behave inclusively and most importantly when they do

Our workforce is changing. With more Millennials in the workforce than any other generation, the demand for an inclusive culture that honors diversity grows. Millennials are more comfortable with diversity than past generations. Going beyond quotas and training to relevant measurement, transparency and accountability will assist you in shaping a high performing culture.