Is Diversity & Inclusion Delivering Real Business Value?
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Unlocking the full value of Diversity and Inclusion is widely recognised as a must for the modern organisation. Unfortunately, implementation is not as straightforward as first thought, with many companies failing to achieve improvements in D&I metrics. This article explores why firms face issues in deployment and measurement of effective D&I policies.
The Promise of Diversity and Inclusion
“It’s not just that it’s the right thing to do, it makes business sense too.”
Some variant of the above statement is typical of any business case arguing for greater Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace.
Indeed, a quick look at one of the many D&I Indices shows that most leading organisations have woken up and recognised the strong associations between diversity and overall profitability and have now implemented D&I programmes across their organisation.
However, despite the enthusiastic corporate uptake of the principles and value of D&I, one major question firms must face is - "how do we design and implement an effective D&I programme?" The other key question is "how do we measure the effectiveness of D&I initiatives on our business?"
According to a Harvard Business Review study, the top 3 most popular D&I initiatives actually “make firms less diverse, not more”, as they can lead to pushback from staff which can hinder diversity efforts or create resentment among employees.
Alternatively, efforts to retain talent from diverse groups may fail if employees feel ‘exhausted’ from trying to fit into a new company culture while also being one of the first hires under a D&I Strategy, writes Naomi Day:
“Being the first person in a tech space because of a company’s noble efforts towards diversity and inclusion is absolutely exhausting, and leads to burnout and a lack of retention of the very populations companies are trying to attract.”
Effective D&I Requires Buy-In
How then, do organisations mitigate against these risks, while implementing an effective D&I policy?
For starters, best practices and the experience of pioneering firms are excellent places to conceptualise new D&I initiatives while looking to avoid the mistakes of previous companies.
In particular, engaging employees with the D&I objectives, instead of imposing D&I upon them seems to be an effective way to combat the natural resistance one might encounter when rolling out any change programme:
D&I In the Age of Agile
Firms looking for a set of quick fixes will immediately come to realise that there are no guaranteed silver bullets that will work for all firms, in all regions and for all teams.
While this sounds obvious, top-down initiatives, designed by D&I committees and slowly rolled out over many months are the complete antithesis of modern Agile management principles and demanded by today's rapidly moving disruptive forces. Nevertheless, this top-down slow roll-out approach is being heartily adopted by leading firms globally.
Visionary firms recognise that, in order to reap the well-established benefits of a diverse workplace, their D&I strategy itself must reflect the Agile needs of the modern business.
What is needed, therefore, are forward-looking analytics that provide early indications as to the effectiveness of a particular initiative. In particular, measurement of the impact of D&I initiatives is key to understand the promised business benefits.
With such analytics, firms stand a much greater chance of iteratively developing D&I initiatives that meet the needs of the company and staff, as shown below:
Such initiatives are less likely to alienate existing employees or placing too much strain on under-represented groups.
Our experience and approach in tackling the issue of measurement of value from D&I has been through the use of AI-based software Dynamix-D&I that generates a degree of transparency and speed that would not be possible using conventional consulting methods.
In particular, we capture how well embedded D&I is in the organisation, and how well the results of the initiatives are being felt by key members of staff.
This forms a ‘rapid benchmark’ that can be used on a regular basis as part of an agile, iterative approach to D&I - an absolute need in today's world of ongoing disruption and change, as well as measuring the efficacy value of D&I initiatives to the firm.
Zag Asghar, Managing Partner & CEO of PREDIXA
PREDIXA helps business leaders to make more effective strategic decisions by rapidly analysing their organisation and pinpointing key issues for remediation using its powerful AI-based Org-Dynamix suite of business applications for predictive analysis.
To find out more about our unique approach to the analysis and measurements of the effectiveness of Diversity and Inclusion, reach out to us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org