Diversity and inclusion are terms that all executive teams are familiar with. From recruiting strategies to corporate policies, there is a huge emphasis these days on ensuring that your workforce reflects our globalized society and is supportive of everyone, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, or other demographic identifiers. And with good reason. Research from all sectors shows that diverse and inclusive workforces outperform their peers. In fact, a McKinsey study found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15%, while those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35%.
Unsurprisingly, innovation is also increased with a more diverse workforce. A Boston Consulting Group report found that companies with above-average diversity scores reported more income from innovation (new products released) than did companies with below-average diversity scores. Bringing in a variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, as you do with a diverse workforce, increases the creative thinking around your value proposition. People with different perspectives will see an issue in different ways and will come up with different solutions, increasing the chances that the final product will be a hit.
Inclusion is another area where a sincere effort, not just lip service to comply with laws and regulations, will provide dividends for employers. According to HR Tech, “adopting inclusive workstyles allows people to thrive and be themselves, which invariably results in enhanced performance.” One way to show you are dedicated to an inclusive workforce is to promote allyship.
Allyship gives visibility and credit to under-represented groups by ensuring their voices are heard and changes are made accordingly. There are many ways that allyship can be manifested in an organization but there are a few overarching themes that are present in all allyship programs:
- Managers and executives sponsor someone in their organization from an under-represented or marginalized community.
- They speak their sponsee’s name when their sponsee is not around.
- They share their career goals with influencers within the organization.
- They are recommended for stretch assignments that will help them grow their careers.
- They are invited to high profile meetings and endorsed openly.
One way to begin to foster diversity and inclusion in your workforce is to change your current recruiting strategy. You will not find the diverse employees you need if you look in the same places you always have. Forming partnerships with nonprofits and organizations dedicated to helping underrepresented groups excel in the workforce can help you recruit stellar employees from unexpected places. It is also important to make sure that your job descriptions are using gender-neutral language and that your interviewers fall into more than one demographic.
This kind of dedication to diversity and inclusion can become self-sustaining. By becoming an employer known for their diverse and inclusive workforce, you will begin to attract candidates that are specifically looking for this kind of work environment. This is also important for the future of your workforce. By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials and a 2016 survey found that 47% of them are actively looking for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. These are no longer “nice to haves” for job seekers; they are quickly becoming “must-haves.”