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Why is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Important for Sustainability?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

If you had to choose one word to describe the workplace of today, what would it be? Competitive? Challenging? Efficient? Perhaps…  but, would you include “diverse” or “inclusive”? Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) is incredibly important for the health, productivity and success of an organisation, both from a business and a human perspective, as well as ensuring business longevity. 

 

Let’s talk about DE&I   

First, let’s break down these buzzwords: 

  • Diversity is the presence of difference that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality and (dis)ability.  
  • Equity is about promoting impartiality within a business’s processes and procedures.
  • Inclusivity is ensuring those who are diverse feel welcome, and are welcome. 

In an organisation where everyone feels welcome and respected, there is less turnover, greater productivity and greater job satisfaction. 

 

Creating the right culture, will support sustaining your business’ lifespan 

Keeping diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of what your organisation stands for can benefit almost every aspect of the business. The most financially successful companies increasingly are also the ones with the most wide-reaching diversity, equity and inclusion programmes. 

From keeping up with evolving customer and employee expectations to maintaining a competitive edge in attracting top talent, here are some key reasons your company should look to improve DE&I.  

 

Standing true to your company’s values is attractive to your potential workforce 

Most people want to work for a company that shares their values, in fact, recent research shows that people are 1.4 times more likely to apply for a job at an organisation if it’s known for having an inclusive culture – and four times more likely if that company is known for its focus on equity.  

The annual LinkedIn Top Companies list reveals each year’s most desirable employers and all have one thing in common: comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion programmes.  

  

Improve employee retention by focussing on inclusivity 

High employee turnover costs time and money, impacts morale of all employees, and mars an organisation’s reputation.  

You’ll find your employee retention strategy falls short unless you take a truly inclusive approach.  

For disabled employees, research shows that 77% of employees and 80% of leaders who are disabled chose not to share their disability in their workplace.  

For LGBTQ+ workers, 46%  are not ‘out’ at their place of work. And across all diverse characteristics, 75% of employees feel the need to mask their differences or downplay them during work. 

“Diversity is a business strategy that needs to be built into every decision” – Emma Turner, Partnerships and Outreach Lead, Diversity and Ability.  

 

An improved culture will increase profitability  

A diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace improves the economic impact of a company:   

  • Well-managed culturally diverse boards worldwide make higher profits than homogeneous boards. Inclusive organisations promote equal opportunities and a safe space for everyone, this ensures transparent communications leading to good governance.
  • Teams with higher empathy are better equipped to deal with conflict of interests and confrontations essential to maintain a fair governance and strong leadership.
  • Diverse and inclusive teams promote a trustworthy brand image: more diversity and representation within the company means that it is better able to understand different opinions from stakeholders, end-users, value-chain, customers. etc. This builds trust..  

A firm’s gender disparities can have a huge impact on its profits. A study from McKinsey & Company shows on average, companies that practiced gender diversity in executive teams outperformed peers by over 20%.   

An organisation’s commitment to top-team diversity is paving the way for achieving higher business profits, competitive advantages and long-term growth.   

 

Diversity increases access to new markets and inclusion helps attract and retain better talent 

A workforce consisting of people from different cultural, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic backgrounds is better equipped to meet the increasingly diverse needs of the customer base. In this way, diversity helps organisations access new or emerging markets. 

A diverse workforce can also help organisations identify and better communicate with underserved markets that may be interested in their products and services but may not have equal access to them.   

Organisations known for their inclusive cultures attract and retain top talent, which improves their economic bottom line.   

 

But why are we telling you all this?  

As the world continues to pivot, the great hybrid vs remote vs head office debate rattles on. Really, the answer is not as important as gaining the perspective of the workforce in its entirety.  

As business leaders, we have a unique opportunity to affect meaningful change.  

Understanding the whys and hows of DE&I encourages us all to recognise the value of diverse voices. Creating a culture where all voices can be heard and understood will only put us all in a better, stronger, place once we settle into the new world of work and workplace.  

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the cornerstones of sustainable business. They can help companies succeed to a greater degree by involving multiple voices at every level of business. What’s more, they can contribute greatly to a company’s bottom line by putting forward successful and sustainable products and services. Ultimately, diversity, equity, and inclusion are good for business and every individual involved in it. 

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