With increasing demands on global companies for responsiveness, adaptability, innovation, speed and responsible corporate citizenship, organizations cannot afford to dismiss the potential benefits of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). D&I pushes the limits of both personal and organizational biases to help individuals and companies realize their full potential. However, bringing D&I to an organization can initially be difficult, as the process requires clarity of purpose, resolve, focus and a carefully crafted, locally relevant strategy.
D&I is often surrounded by a considerable “fog” that leaves many managers and executives with a profound sense of discomfort. This is not surprising, considering that:
• D&I seeks to address a broad, complex and seemingly intangible set of issues because it focuses on psychology and sociology, topics that are not included in the functional training of managers and executives.
• The term “diversity” does not resonate with managers outside the “Anglosphere.” Many equate it with a US phenomenon that has little local relevance and implies the undesirable notion of “political correctness.”
• D&I is often associated with companies’ responsibilities toward society, not with critical or strategic business concerns. Most companies have not historically given much thought to real Diversity & Inclusion, and if they have, often it was simply to meet quotas for women and ethnic minorities.
D&I is built on the belief that static and unchallenged social norms stifle creativity and innovation, create complacency, and ultimately hinder agility and adaptability. Departures from the social norm need to be encouraged. Ensuring that diverse thoughts, opinions, experiences and perspectives are represented within an organization is essential for breeding innovation and growth.
When done well, D&I initiatives can greatly improve the performance of individuals, teams and entire organizations. Initiatives that are based on careful mapping and analysis, and that act on links between individual behavior and business results, yield prescriptions for changes. Productivity gains, expansion, growth, and sometimes simply survival, justify the investment of cost, time and organizational energy demanded by these changes.Back to Navigating Culture Blog