Heard this before? Diversity and inclusion bring in the perspectives of various nationalities, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, economic and social backgrounds and disabilities to help develop innovative products for customers and a unique environment for associates. I feel called upon to discuss this further, as the creation of inclusive environments goes beyond the token adoption of workplace diversity or supplier diversity – just to meet some goals and put up some numbers (and bag a few brownie points). An addition to these goals is customer diversity. Let us look at the various ways in which some companies foster diversity and inclusion, by paying special attention to the aspects of diversity which best suit their needs and goals and targeting them for special attention – to put together what best suits your specific needs.
Women in Top Management: Some companies pay attention to consultants like McKinsey, who have focused their redoubtable research talents to collect data with which to prove without doubt that ‘Women Matter’; using data from various Global entities to show how the participation of women at board level has boosted the financial performance of companies against industry standards. Women like Indra Nooyi (Pepsico), Safra Catz (Oracle), Sharon Allen (Deloitte LLP) and others act as iconic symbols of the way companies have chosen to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling and reap the benefits of their unique strengths and perspectives. Finance industry players like Deloitte ensure themselves a space in the minds of potential women customers through such an approach, as is proved by the way many others like Credit Suisse, Ernst & Young and Goldman Sachs have placed women firmly on their workplace agenda.
Hiring More Women: This policy spills over to hiring women with a view to grooming them for leadership positions. The challenges are high, as most working women do a balancing act, juggling family with work adroitly. Companies today hire more women, knowing of the need for accommodation of leave for maternity, family health and childcare-related issues and even sabbaticals. Companies do focused recruitments to get women on a sabbatical back to the workforce. This breaks through the inhibitions which hold women back at home, even after a sabbatical. Asians, African-Americans and Hispanics are the sub-groups which need to be included to the list of someone seeking true diversity.
The graph illustrates how many women in the workforce are present in executive roles like Managers, Officials & Professionals and how many are in assistant roles like Technicians, Sales, Office & Clerical, Craft Workers, Operatives, Labor and Service Workers – to understand the enormity of the task ahead.
Hiring LGBT: This initiative requires a willing participation and genuine commitment from everyone at the workplace to succeed. Accommodation a possible need for special restrooms has been considered an imperative to ensure harmony at the workplace.
It is necessary for companies adopting supplier diversity to ensure that they do not look upon this as just a financial goal but institute the necessary checks and guard into the process to ensure that the dollars are reaching the diverse business being patronized. For a detailed approach to this topic, go here.
Ever heard the story of the global detergent company which entered an Arabic-speaking country and soon initiated a marketing blitzkrieg – with pictorial representations of a dirty white cloth in Picture 1, wash with detergent as Picture 2 and a shining while cloth in Picture 3! Disaster struck and sales dropped to Zero – because Arabic is read from right to left and for the customers – Picture 3 represented Picture 1!
Many a business has met a similar Waterloo by failing to recognize that their product offering holds no real value to their target clientele. Setting up shop in countries like China or India would present a huge challenge without seeking any expert consultancy on the market and its choices. Food is one area where a product needs must suit the customer’s palate and practices of the customers like the Jewish Kosher and Islamic Halal preparations. Imagine serving a Caucasian staple like meat and potatoes even in Miami – with a high Hispanic population. The list goes on: Trying to sell packaged goods to touchy-feely customers is bound to result in stocked shelves, while beauty products and clothing which do not suit the customer’s skin tone and preferences may as well be not marketed at all. While some products succeed with suitable customization, others may just be not meant for some markets. Such insight and inputs for customization can only come when we adopt an inclusive approach and learn to meet the customer needs. A fine example of achieving success on a global scale through diversity and inclusion is set by the retail food giant McDonald’s to the delight of customers from the 119 countries it operates in out of a mind-blowing 33000 outlets!
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