Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is No Longer Nice to Have – It’s a Must Have

When organizations set goals and aspirations related to diversity, equity and inclusion we see this reflected in their mission and vision statements.

These goals are quite often ambitious.  To their credit, many organizations may very well have good intentions in terms of their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, however, the challenges in achieving their outcomes often rests in the organization’s abilities to identify the what and the how.

What do you truly want to accomplish and how will you do that effectively?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion —The WHAT:

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) it will take 100 years for the gender gap to close and for there to be gender equality.

Recent research validates that the gender gap is alive and well, with the pay gap equally existent.  To give context to the slow pace of change, in 1999, the number of female CEOs of fortune 500 companies was 2%, today that number is 6.6% or 33 women, despite more women in the workforce than ever, and women holding higher levels of education than their male counterparts.

Women, women of colour and Latina women have been the hardest hit by COVID 19 and exiting the workforce at alarming rates.

Why?

In some cases, COVID-19 has increased the burden women have always had of balancing work and life, and compounded with the stay-at-home restrictions it can be difficult, overwhelming and challenging to raise a family and work from home. In other cases, women in service industries or Pink Ghettos – industries dominated by women, were closed indefinitely due to COVID-19, ensuring these most vulnerable women exited the workforce.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion —The HOW:

We must begin to seriously ask, as leaders and as organizations:

  • How are we supporting this important segment of our population and workforce?
  • How will we ensure they have the tools and skills to re-enter the workforce stronger and better than pre-COVID 19?

Some key statistics, according to an RBC report, amid the pressures of the pandemic: 

  • Men are picking up jobs at thrice the rate that women are leaving the workforce
  • 20,000+ women left the workforce between Feb-Oct, 2020
  • 68,000 men joined the workforce during this same time

The report stated that the pandemic and the demands of raising a family are most likely to blame for women exiting from the workforce.

On the contrary, men are benefiting from growth in the fields of technology, science, and engineering — fields they already dominate in to begin with.

So, should women and leaders accept this fate or should they revisit their DEI goals and vision and double down on an important resource — women?

According to Harvard Business Review, women have been better leaders, prior to and during the pandemic:

The report concluded that:

“Perhaps the most valuable part of the data we’re collecting throughout the crisis is hearing from thousands of direct reports about what they value and need from leaders now. Based on our data they want leaders who are able to pivot and learn new skills; who emphasize employee development even when times are tough; who display honesty and integrity; and who are sensitive and understanding of the stress, anxiety, and frustration that people are feeling. Our analysis shows that these are traits that are more often being displayed by women.”

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion —WHAT’s Next:

Continuous investment in developing this important talent pool with proven successful programs and diversity, equity and inclusion training that empower women and develop their confidence and skills is not a nice-to-have, but a must have today.

At Corporate Class Inc., our Live Online Women in Leadership Masterclass is a two-day program that is simply transformational.

Why?

Because the program is unique in tackling some of the biggest challenges’ women face — bias, the imposter syndrome, the confidence gap, work-life balance and more.

The program is interactive and highly experiential, allowing each participant to dig deep into who they are, what they want their brand to be, how they make a first (and many other) impressions and teaches them the tools and skills to be confident, compassionate and to lead with executive presence and focus.

Why should organizations invest in a diversity, equity and inclusion program for women?

Given that women remain scarce in the C-suite and in the workforce, and that number has diminished due to race, culture and ethnicity – organizations who want to be global leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion must invest in the development of the most critical talent in their organizations and society.

Women are shaped by unique experiences and intersecting identities, so it is important to recognize and address the divergent challenges and barriers they face in a safe space to share stories, experiences and learn from one other. Women experience a journey of self-discovery and reflection, resulting in strengthened performance and confidence.

Real growth. Real change. Real development. Real Return on Investment.

Ready to step into your power with confidence?

Discover CCI’s Live Online Women in Leadership Masterclass for individuals or corporations.

What Should Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Look Like?

“Diversity is counting the numbers, inclusion is making the numbers count.”

Take a pause and think about that for a minute. This is one of my favourite quotes and it comes from Harvard Professor Borys Groysberg.

Let’s be honest. Many organizations have embraced the ideas of diversity and inclusion in the workplace at some level and have D&I polices in place, along with employee resource groups. Some companies have even created new roles such as directors or officers who have oversight of D&I for the organization.

  • But what does diversity and inclusion really look like in an organization?
  • Who do these roles report to and where does the ultimate authority rest for making changes?
  • Are they just counting numbers or do the numbers really count?

McKinsey has published a number of reports on this topic. Most recently they found that,

“…the business case remains robust but also that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial out performance has strengthened over time. These findings emerge from our largest data set so far, encompassing 15 countries and more than 1,000 large companies.” Therefore, expanding the diversity of an organization may be linked to enhanced bottom lines and ROI.  Is this a result of causation or correlation? McKinsey found that, “Our 2019 analysis finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile”.

This is not surprising given how global the world has become, immigration patterns and greater access to education. Simply a diverse talent pool exists – no question. Thus, any excellent organization that is looking to support and expand its offerings in the diverse and international marketplace needs to reflect, at the highest level of the organization, its consumer base and global outlook.

While the dial is moving slowly on diversity, inclusion remains a challenge for many organizations.

When assessing for inclusion through ‘social listening’, McKinsey found that organizations were failing.

As a D&I strategist, this is not surprising.  Organizations often lump diversity with inclusion but they are not the same.

So, how do organizations create more inclusive environments?

Let’s be clear – this requires commitment – and work – from all levels of leadership starting from the top. And (not but) the rewards are significant in organizational performance and in terms of perception.

Ensuring the leadership team is diverse, particularly in key roles within the organization, is important, ensuring accountability, transparency and openness in hiring processes and key decisions is also critical to inclusion. Addressing bias when it occurs and using opportunities as teaching moments to affect change is important all the while taking a multipronged approach to inclusion practices.  Organizations should tap into experts – external and internal to the organization – to help navigate this.

If diversity is counting the numbers and inclusion is making the numbers count, then embracing, supporting and celebrating our differences is perhaps what successful integration looks like.