Making the business case for diversity

With the murder of George Floyd, racism in football, criticism of the Royal Family, diversity in Formula 1, and gender pay gap data now headline news, it’s clear that the issue of diversity is now more important than ever…

But, when looking at diversity, it’s worth considering whether belonging and inclusion is the missing piece of the puzzle.

In a series of three blogs, I’ll be exploring the business case for diversity, the distinction between diversity, inclusion and belonging, and the challenge of focusing purely on diversity. I’ll then explore how to embed belonging and inclusion into your workplace diversity strategy, how to measure this strategy’s success and examine some best practices.

The business case for diversity

Let’s begin by looking at the business case for hiring diverse teams:

  • 22% lower turnover rates: Consider the true cost to your business of staff turnover (agency fees, equipment, training, etc.). How can you reinvest these cost savings into your people?
  • 30% more productivity: Could this allow your team to put aside more time for innovation?
  • Teams make better business decisions 87% of the time while delivering 60% better results: Could this mean more repeat customers? What impact could this have on sales?
  • Teams make decisions twice as fast and require half the meetings: Calculate the true cost of reducing the time your team spends in meetings. Could this allow you to take on more clients and reduce your headcount?
  • Products mirror the teams that build them: Organisations need to build products and services that reflect the communities they serve. Can your business afford a negative news story?

It’s possible to have diversity without inclusion but the real benefits of diversity (innovation, new ideas, creativity, financial gains) can’t be realised without inclusion – and true inclusion can’t exist without belonging.

So, what are the distinctions between diversity, inclusion and belonging?

Diversity means ‘being invited to the party’…

Diversity is about representation within an organisation and ensuring that your products and services reflect the communities they serve.

This is the baseline for your organisation’s analysis and allows you to track demographic data (protected characteristics).

Inclusion is ‘being asked to dance’…

Whilst diversity is about getting people through the door, inclusion is about ensuring that you have an inclusive environment and culture for people to work in.

Once you’ve collected your diversity data, inclusion will mean looking at this data and any equality gaps. You can then create a culture where your team feel valued and trusted.

Belonging means ‘not being judged on the way you dance’…

Inclusion is about actions and behaviours, whereas belonging is a feeling. Inclusion can’t exist if your team don’t feel like they belong and are part of your community.

Belonging is the feeling of being valued and accepted – that you can bring your authentic self to work. Major tech companies believe that belonging is the missing part of the employee engagement conversation and will help to improve staff retention.