Making the business case for diversity
With the murder of George Floyd, racism in football, criticism of the Royal Family, diversity in Formula 1, and gender pay gap data now headline news, it’s clear that the issue of diversity is now more important than ever…
But, when looking at diversity, it’s worth considering whether belonging and inclusion is the missing piece of the puzzle.
In a series of three blogs, I’ll be exploring the business case for diversity, the distinction between diversity, inclusion and belonging, and the challenge of focusing purely on diversity. I’ll then explore how to embed belonging and inclusion into your workplace diversity strategy, how to measure this strategy’s success and examine some best practices.
The business case for diversity
Let’s begin by looking at the business case for hiring diverse teams:
- 22% lower turnover rates: Consider the true cost to your business of staff turnover (agency fees, equipment, training, etc.). How can you reinvest these cost savings into your people?
- 30% more productivity: Could this allow your team to put aside more time for innovation?
- Teams make better business decisions 87% of the time while delivering 60% better results: Could this mean more repeat customers? What impact could this have on sales?
- Teams make decisions twice as fast and require half the meetings: Calculate the true cost of reducing the time your team spends in meetings. Could this allow you to take on more clients and reduce your headcount?
- Products mirror the teams that build them: Organisations need to build products and services that reflect the communities they serve. Can your business afford a negative news story?
It’s possible to have diversity without inclusion but the real benefits of diversity (innovation, new ideas, creativity, financial gains) can’t be realised without inclusion – and true inclusion can’t exist without belonging.
So, what are the distinctions between diversity, inclusion and belonging?
Diversity means ‘being invited to the party’…
Diversity is about representation within an organisation and ensuring that your products and services reflect the communities they serve.
This is the baseline for your organisation’s analysis and allows you to track demographic data (protected characteristics).
Inclusion is ‘being asked to dance’…
Whilst diversity is about getting people through the door, inclusion is about ensuring that you have an inclusive environment and culture for people to work in.
Once you’ve collected your diversity data, inclusion will mean looking at this data and any equality gaps. You can then create a culture where your team feel valued and trusted.
Belonging means ‘not being judged on the way you dance’…
Inclusion is about actions and behaviours, whereas belonging is a feeling. Inclusion can’t exist if your team don’t feel like they belong and are part of your community.
Belonging is the feeling of being valued and accepted – that you can bring your authentic self to work. Major tech companies believe that belonging is the missing part of the employee engagement conversation and will help to improve staff retention.
How to make the people on your team feel like they belong
Once you’ve collected your diversity, inclusion and belonging data, you’re then in a position to use this to create your overarching strategy. At eSynergy, we have a data-driven diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy, which is evidence-based, rather than by personal preference.
Blog 3 in our series looks at how to encourage feelings of belonging in your teams and how data can drive this strategy…
Do you even know me?
You must get to know your people and your team. Everyone has their own story: take the time to get to know each of these. This means giving them your full attention. Trust is built on understanding and connecting with people. You want to trust your employees, but they also need to be able to trust you and your organisation. By sharing your company’s mission, vision and values, you’ll create a two-way sense of belonging, which will drive a more inclusive work environment and culture.
For your team to feel a genuine sense of belonging, it’s important to encourage any opportunities for them to connect. This could mean personalising introductions, events or spaces for people to get to know each other, learn and grow. This could also include ERGs/CRGs, office socials and activities, all of which bring people together.
Create a home from home
Your office is your team’s home, so it’s vital to create a warm, safe space. Everyone loves a trip to the kitchen for a cuppa and a chat; don’t underestimate the value of these conversations and the effect they have on your team’s wellbeing.
Clearly communicate your values
Your organisation may have a forward-thinking vision and amazing employee perks but how well have you actually communicated this to people internally?
Often, we’re so focused on trying to bring in new talent that we forget about our existing, loyal team…
Be sure to communicate your organisation’s mission, values, strategies, objectives and key results (OKRs) – and the role they will play in achieving those OKRs. This will mean they’re more likely to be engaged and motivated and will make them feel like they have a real purpose. It will also clarify how their work contributes to the wider business, encouraging a feeling of belonging (think back to the business case for diversity, inclusion and belonging).
Embed diversity, inclusion and belonging into your culture, processes and policies
When you’re defining these strategies, be sure to embed diversity, inclusion and belonging into your culture, processes and policies – it should be at the very heart of your organisation. Diversity, inclusion and belonging is a journey and there’s no quick fix. It needs to be part of everyday life.
How we’ve used data to drive belonging and inclusion
Below are some examples of how we’ve created actions from our belonging and inclusion data at eSynergy:
These examples perfectly illustrate that we should all be thinking outside the box! Be innovative and don’t be afraid to put your head above the parapet!
If you’d like to know more about our diversity, inclusion and belonging journey, please drop me a line and be sure to keep an eye out for the Beequal event.
Get in touch
Is your company diverse enough?
Many companies believe that embracing diversity is the right thing to do and, at eSynergy, we’ve evidenced the business case for having a diverse team. There are limitations though to a strategy that focuses on diversity alone.
The second part of our blog series on why belonging and inclusion are as important as diversity, looks at why it’s important not to focus on diversity alone…
Harnessing the power of diverse thought
Firstly, an on organisation can often be ‘diverse-ish’, which is to say they only pay lip service to diversity efforts and initiatives and label themselves as ‘diverse’ without genuinely being so. Meanwhile, others will try and fail to achieve diversity (although we’d much rather you try than do nothing at all…).
What organisations don’t understand is that by only focusing on diversity (getting people through the door), we force people to think the way we do – which defeats the purpose of having a diverse workforce. We need to harness the power of diverse thought and the strengths that people with different abilities and life experiences bring to an organisation.
The importance of having a genuine diverse sourcing strategy
There’s an important difference between having a genuine diverse sourcing strategy and hiring diverse candidates purely as a tick box exercise: With the latter, not only will the individual who’s been hired feel like they are a token hire, they may also suffer from imposter syndrome or be underqualified for the role and be more likely to leave the organisation.
The team will likely also feel resentment towards future diversity initiatives as they may need to pick up additional work (especially if the new team member is underqualified). Subsequently, this will impact retention, team performance and your organisation’s culture.
Diversity is about more than just demographics
If you’re not already including belonging and inclusion questions as part of your diversity data collection, don’t worry! Now we’re returning to something like normal life, it’s a timely opportunity to focus on belonging and inclusion for those who are transitioning from working from home back to the office.
If you’re already collecting diversity data for your employees (this includes their protected characteristics) you can add some belonging and inclusion questions into this data collection (some organisations prefer to collect this information as part of the onboarding process, whilst others prefer annual employee surveys).
Not sure what to ask? Survey Monkey has partnered with Paradigm to create a survey template that will help you to measure the things that will drive inclusion at your organisation.
How you’ll know when your organisation is truly inclusive
The true output of inclusion is when your whole team feel like they belong.
A simple way of measuring the success of your efforts is to ensure that your team diversity, and belonging and inclusion scores, keep improving.
So, what does belonging really feel like? Firstly, you should feel you can bring as much of your authentic self to your workplace as possible: We can only really feel appreciated and contribute towards the business by being our true selves.
Challenging without fear of consequences
Our feelings of belonging are strongly correlated with psychological safety. This means asking questions and challenging without fearing the consequences. It’s, therefore, a business imperative to ensure your people feel like they belong, as this creates high-performing teams and encourages creativity and innovation.
There’s also been some research into the business case for belonging. BetterUp discovered that, when employees feel a strong sense of belonging, they reduced their turnover risk by 50% (which is over double that of diverse teams alone), with a 56% increase in performance (almost double that of diverse teams alone) and a 75% reduction in sick days. Meanwhile, EY found that a sense of belonging made their teams more productive, engaged, motivated and 3.5 times more likely to work to their full, innovative potential.