Recently, I had the privilege attending an interactive session with George Soros, the billionaire-investor and philanthropist. People kept throwing questions at him to receive thoughtful responses peppered with humor. When someone wanted to know what would be a right time for someone to initiate philanthropic activities; pat came the answer: only when you make a pile can you afford to give away some of it and not before. It really made a lot of sense coming from someone who has really been there and done that!
It was a moment of epiphany for me when I related his words to understand the way companies handle diversity and inclusion. For them, it is a matter of moral or ethical choice or just a compliance requirement for their businesses. This is almost akin to someone making half-hearted attempts at practicing philanthropy before amassing sufficient wealth. It makes a recipe for failure because the process lacks true and total commitment.
Advantages with D&I:
Competitive Advantage: It is high time businesses recognized diversity and inclusion for the competitive advantage they provide and the benefits that accrue to businesses which make it a part of their DNA rather than adopt it only to jump on the bandwagon or make token efforts at compliance. When companies have products aimed at diverse people, their chances at success would improve if they recognized and accommodated such diverse people and their preferences, values and beliefs. This would be possible only if an inclusive practice makes it possible for the business to someone with ingrained awareness of these people working with them.
Improved Productivity: A truly inclusive culture promotes a higher productivity, lowered absenteeism and attrition by increasing worker commitment and loyalty.
Women Matter – This is what McKinsey said way back in 2010 saying more women in the top management translate to higher profits, consistently.
Innovation & Creativity – Research has proved unequivocally that diverse groups get catalyzed into improved innovation, creative thinking and develop better products compared to a homogeneous group.
Sell More – Understanding the way the pie gets divided among one’s customer base might help businesses try and ensure adequate representation at the workplace. This may help the business to market its products better and also improve/retain customer loyalty.
Compliance Goals – It is essential for businesses to meet the mandates on non-discrimination and affirmative action.
Totally disregarding demographic and diversity related information when screening a resume can only bridge the gap to some extent because even a telephonic interview is enough to inadvertently reveal gender and even demography (through accent and expression). Companies may see enough diversity in their workforce, if they went by merit and ignored all enticements to show a preference to any particular group.
Recognize the barriers which come in the way of promoting D&I at your business and ensure that they do not limit your competitive advantage.. Analyze the recruitment process to understand where the business is sourcing talent from and the criteria put in place to vet applicants for each position. Amend the processes to systematically revise the specific practices which make diversity and inclusion more theory than practice.
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