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What Should Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Look Like?

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.

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