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.
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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.