Inclusion and diversity (I&D) in our workplaces is key to a successful economy. A recent McKinsey Institute article titled “Diversity still matters” and encourages that I&D are not lost in the midst of the current crisis – the COVID-19 Pandemic. In fact, the argument for forging ahead and being even bolder in this regard is aptly made with the following statement below and above:
When companies invest in diversity and inclusion, they are in a better position to create more adaptive, effective teams and more likely to recognize diversity as a competitive advantage.
The authors believe that “I&D frequently makes a significant difference to an
organization’s performance.” Here is a snapshot of those benefits:
Opportunity 1: Winning the war for talent.
Organizations can ensure that they hold onto their top talent by monitoring the demographic profile of their changing workforce and ensuring that diverse talent isn’t lost. The wholesale shift to remote working is also opening up access to a whole new array of talent that may not have been available to companies previously: working parents, dual-career couples, and single parents are all better suited to a flexible
workplace and remote working.
Opportunity 2: Improving the quality of decision making. Our research has demonstrated that organizations investing in diversity and inclusion are strongly positioned in this regard, in part because diversity brings multiple perspectives to bear on problems, thereby boosting the odds of more creative solutions. Diverse companies are also more likely to have employees who feel they can be themselves at work and are empowered to participate and contribute.
Opportunity 3: Increasing customer insight and innovation. For example, one study found that over a two-year period, companies with more women were more likely to introduce radical new innovations into the market. A separate study found that businesses run by culturally diverse leadership teams were more likely to develop new products than those with homogenous leadership.
Opportunity 4: Driving employee motivation and satisfaction. McKinsey research on Latin America showed that companies perceived as committed to diversity are about 75 percent more likely to report a pro-teamwork leadership culture. Companies can also use society-wide feelings of solidarity, which are growing in the crisis, to build agile, inclusive work cultures going forward. Proponents of I&D should show the leaders and managers of their companies the business benefits of I&D and the critical importance of inclusive leadership to ensure that all employees feel valued and motivated at a time of increased vulnerability.
Opportunity 5: Improving a company’s global image and license to operate.
Companies that maintain, or even increase, their focus on I&D during the downturn are likely to avoid the risk of being penalized in its aftermath—for example, by losing customers, struggling to attract talent, and losing government support and partnerships. Companies that seek to emphasize solidarity and purpose and reach beyond the
organization to support the broader economy and society stand to gain.
In a recent Munk Dialogue interview, Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group commented on the fact that the size of this crisis might be big enough to advance long term institutional change. In that same session, Janice Gross Stein, Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs agreed with that statement. It’s also a position of the authors of the McKinsey article -all supporting the fact that the time is now to move boldly forward on inclusion and diversity.
How we can do this will be explored in articles over the following weeks.
Diversity Still Matters - May 19, 2020