What benefits result when an organisation practices valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion?
When we first looked into writing this article, we needed to do a deeper dive into the basic difference between equality and equity. We understand what diversity and inclusion are of course. However, we still feel there needs to be further education with organisations around the term ‘equity’.
If an organisation wants to create an environment where employees feel valued, appreciated, and respected in the workplace, practicing diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are paramount for success.
EQUALITY VS EQUITY
Equality is still largely used in business today when discussing diversity and inclusion. Having ‘equal’ rights – no matter who you are. Equally dividing resource amongst a set of people. Dig a bit deeper and you quickly realise it’s not enough.
That’s because people are different.
Equity is ensuring we factor in the difference amongst people when working on our systems and tools. We need to make sure that we not only divide the resources equally, but ensure that there are different support levels so every single person has the same opportunity for success.
Example of how organisations ‘do the work’ are well discussed in this article.
- The recruiting/hiring process – Recruiting teams need to examine their own biases, and actively fight against discrimination during the recruitment process
- Salary – Pay equity looks at systemic issues and the multiple factors that affect pay gaps between groups, such as racial and gender discrimination
- Accommodations – For companies that value equality, accommodations are a must-have even if they’re not legally required. People with disabilities, mental health conditions, or language barriers often need accommodations
Having a team full of members with diverse backgrounds will bring fresh perspectives and the organisation will have better chances to be a stronger competitor in the market. Time and time again, we have heard, opposites attract. This applies in social settings and workplace settings.
However, some backgrounds may privilege a certain cohort. Work must be done by organisations to ensure all people can contribute. No matter the background. That’s where the right systems and tools should do the job.
Valuing team members that have different perspectives and backgrounds will create an environment where unique characteristics are celebrated. Celebrating employees leads to satisfaction and an increase in engagement and productivity. Too often, companies launch a DE&I plan to check off a box. More so now than ever before, understanding the concepts and moving forward with a plan in place will only benefit organisations and their success.
This series of illustrations explains it well.
So what happens when an organisation leans into not only diversity and inclusion, but genuinely considers equity amongst its core value pillars? It opens up a new world of skills, ideas and opportunities to leverage that weren’t there before. That’s when diverse thought truly enters the discussion. That’s when a company is truly being inclusive of all its hiring and employees. It’s good business, for both internal culture as well as what you can bring to the client.
Nate Nelson is ADAPTOVATE USA partner and Managing Director. He states, “Equity stands out. I believe there is a larger socio-economic impact by understanding how to create an equitable environment for anyone to thrive. More specifically, bringing diverse thoughts and perspectives to our clients allows for more enriching discussions and interesting insights.”
“It takes more than policies and programs for employees to feel a strong commitment to a company. Fair employers will thrive by respecting team members’ unique needs, perspectives and potential,” explains Sonya Doshi, Talent manager with ADAPTOVATE USA.
Sonya says, “From my experience, practicing diversity, equity, and inclusion increases innovation, engagement, and productivity. Innovation means celebrating creative ideas that add value to the business. Promoting inclusion within a company can lead to creative idea generation which will automatically fuel team members to innovate.”
CLEAR THE RAMP FIRST
There is a misconception we should apply the ’80-20 rule’ or the Pareto Principle to everything in the organisation. This works really well in solving internal process issues. But what about our end users?
Murray Foltyn, a senior consultant in our Sydney office, gives this example, “I argue if you’re able to solve the edge case, you’ll often delight everyone else. Let me give you an example. Imagine there is a sudden snowstorm while your kids are at school. Should the grounds-person clear the stairs most students use first? Or the accessible ramp used by a few? I’d go for the ramp so everyone can use it.”
So, the challenge for organisations as they strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion is to find their ‘ramps’, and clear that blocker first.
TALENT RETENTION & RECRUITMENT
When an organisation practices valuing and taking action on diversity, equity, and inclusion, individual team members are able to bring more of their authentic selves to work. Thus driving employee satisfaction, retention, and business outcomes.
Internally, organisations that value diversity, equity, and inclusion are inherently focused on the employee experience. In the constant war for good talent, it is no longer enough to have DE&I initiatives.
Rather, it must be part of your organisation’s genetic code to make team members feel valued and respected at work. Inaya Dsouza, an associate in the US office says, “I believe that more people are seeking employment where they can contribute meaningfully and believe in the organisation’s purpose and values.”
Organisations that intentionally commit to improving DE&I can help recruit and retain these types of employees. From a talent perspective, the cost of not incorporating DE&I into your strategic vision, quarterly updates and daily work is high – competitors who do this will win in the talent space.
According to a study by the Queens School of Business and by the Gallup Organisation, disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects. In organisations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth and 65% lower share price over time.
Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.
REFLECTING YOUR CUSTOMERS
Organisations that have good levels of diversity often find it easier to connect with their clients and communities as they can more closely resemble them. They can understand client and community values, priorities and language. We go into that more in another article on Diversity and Inclusion in Agile teams.
Understanding it within your own organisation and seeing the benefits, will naturally put you in pole position to assist your clients.
Teams in the organisation benefit from hearing a wider reach of ideas, and will generally develop a greater sense of empathy. Kayla Cartwright is a project lead in our US office. She states, “The practice of standing in a teammate’s shoes can be applied to the practice of standing in a customer’s shoes; the empathy developed by having a diverse and inclusive workforce snowballs into empathy for the end-user, ultimately allowing teams to develop better products and services that drive revenue and customer loyalty.”
THE CONTINUOUS CYCLE – it’s a win-win-win.
So you can see that by ensuring that you are attracting & retaining top talent, you ensure better engagement, productivity and innovation. There is a continuous cycle of benefits. Employees are happy, they create better, more inspired work, and customers receive better products and the business accelerates. It’s a win-win-win.
A little bit about ADAPTOVATE. We have five internal values which all employees understand and live by.
Our Values, the driving force behind our culture, are:
- Integrity – we distinguish right from wrong and do the right thing, we only make promises we will keep
- Respect – we recognise and embrace the unique qualities of each team member and client, we value one another’s opinions and beliefs, even when we disagree
- Teaming – we know that team work and cooperation are essential to our success, we choose our attitudes, are passionate team players and have fun along the way
- Deliver Value – we earn respect through the quality of work we deliver, we work with clients to deliver tangible change and we measure our success against our clients’ success
- Be Agile – we hold ourselves accountable, we find actionable solutions when something is not right
Thank you to our wonderful contributors to this article, including:
Kayla Cartwright, Project Lead, USA
Sonya Doshi, Talent manager, USA
Inaya Dsouza, Associate, USA
Luca Fiorentino, Senior Consultant, Australia
Murray Foltyn, Senior Consultant, Australia
Nikhil Josh, Consultant, Canada
Jessica Montri, Associate, USA
Nate Nelson, Partner and Managing Director, USA
Alex Truś, Consultant, Poland
Steve Walton, Principal, Australia