Human Capital Management

What Really Moves the Needle on Diversity?


It’s clear that there are dividends associated with having a diverse workforce.  Studies show that companies that have gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to financially outperform those that don’t have it.  So, why are so many organizations continuing to struggle with diversity and not fully realizing the benefits of a diverse workforce? Many leaders express frustration with setting the same or very similar diversity objectives yearly and making investments in hiring and diversity initiatives but not realizing the expected results.

So, what’s the solution?  Shift the focus from Diversity to Inclusion.

Yes, it’s that simple.  Set the strategic focus on Maximum Inclusion first.  Inclusion enhances an organization’s ability to engage, retain and fully utilize the talents of people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Below are four ways for leaders to create maximum inclusion in their organizations:

1. Cultivate Cultural Intelligence.  At all levels of the organization build the capability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures, and work with varying cultural beliefs.

2. Create Psychological Safety.  Studies show that in an Inclusive environment, employees feel psychologically safe expressing their identities, which influences their in-role and extra-role performance. The term, psychological safety, coined by Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson, means allowing employees to express their ideas and opinions openly and take risks without fear of negative repercussion.

3. Foster Belongingness. A sense of belonging promotes engagement and success. Belonging is an individual’s sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity as a member of an organization. Employees need to be able to connect their own identity to the organization’s intrinsic identity to feel that they belong.

4. Encourage Authenticity. Conformity can stifle employee performance. Studies show that 61% of employees are actively involved in “covering”, hiding unique and different aspects of themselves while at work.  This decreases productivity as they spend a lot of time and energy trying to be someone other than who they are to fit in. Make it safe for people to contribute and progress at work without surrendering who they really are.

In 2021, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts are no longer optional for a successful organization. For employees to feel comfortable in the workplace, they must be able to show up as their full selves. As unconscious biases and systemic racism exist, one way to support your team in your DEI efforts is through diversity and inclusion training. An outside expert can meet your team where they are in their journey and provide the tools and resources, specific to your organization, to help them move toward a more inclusive workplace.

To learn more about our Diversity & Inclusion training options or for additional support in your organization’s DEI efforts, please fill out the form below: