Inclusion is the only path to real diversity success.
Diversity alone delivers nothing – in fact if left to its own devices it can cause havoc, impede performance and damage reputation. That’s because conflict among people who are different is the natural order of things. We are all naturally tribal and we tend to prefer those who we perceive to be the same as us (whether they are or not) – and be wary of those we perceive to be unlike us (whether they are or not).
Diverse teams are important for three reasons :
- to increase performance by leveraging the differences that team members bring in areas such as knowledge, outlook, experience and skillsets (the performance incentive)
- to ensure equal opportunity (the moral case…think reputation risk)
- to benefit society (the social case…think corporate responsibility)
If teams are not inclusive :
- they will not perform as well as they could
- equal opportunity will be impeded, because some individuals will be and feel stifled
- diverse individuals will leave or languish
So if you want to realise the potential that diversity offers, be it innovation & creativity, more talent, access to diverse markets, equal opportunity for all or whatever else, inclusion is the key that unlocks that performance.
There is no other way.
Top tips :
- Weave inclusion thinking into all areas e.g. in recruitment processes ask candidates for feedback on how inclusive your processes are, in your teams conduct skills audits to see if your peoples’ abilities are being used to full effect, in your supply chains ask suppliers what else they could do for you.
- Survey your staff and ask them how included they feel. Their comments will give you clear indications of what’s working and what’s not. Do it regularly to gauge progress.
- Think about your senior management team, how its members are different and whether those differences are valued or suppressed. Educate them about the critical importance of inclusion for unlocking the potential of diversity.
- Get on board with unconscious bias and really address it. It’s not a fad, it’s a critically important part of the inclusion challenge. Go beyond training and implement solutions – there are many out there.
- Appreciate how hard inclusion can be to achieve. Regularly meet people who are different, who you would not normally meet, and analyse your thoughts about them. How did you feel about them before, during and after meeting? Did you manage to get beyond the stereotypes they represented? How much more effort was involved in interacting with them? Were there awkward moments? Would you be friends with them? Would you hire them? Would you recommend them to others? Feel the difference discomfort and aim to understand why.
This post first appeared on the F1 Recuitment blog.
Harish Bhayani, Senior Partner, PRM Diversity Consultants