Diversity and inclusion initiatives are often seen as “nice-to-have” processes that help employees get along. Although this is a good start, it hides the real value of implementing such programmes in your business. The real value lies in the creating an environment that bolsters productivity and innovation. Let’s look at five reasons you need to start implementing diversity/inclusion initiatives at your business today.

What is inclusion in the workplace?

Organisations are diverse, multicultural spaces where people from all walks of life are expected to work together towards a single goal. While this may be an exciting prospect, it is not an easy thing to manage. Conflict easily arises through misunderstandings and break downs of communication. When a team cannot pull together to tackle a task or overcome an obstacle, valuable time, money and energy is wasted.

One may fall into the trap of thinking that difference could therefore threaten innovation and productivity. On the flip side, however, research has shown that “diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful”. Furthermore, it has been noted that “a diverse set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds is crucial to innovation and the development of new ideas”.

The problem is therefore not the presence of diversity, but rather the lack of a systematic approach to managing inclusivity.

According to Dr. Pragya Agarwal, an inclusive workplace is a place where individual differences in the workforce are valued and where all are made to feel welcome and accepted. Dr.Agarwal further notes that true inclusivity is achieved when a clear intention is translated into policy. Such a policy looks to recruit people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalised due to factors such as age, race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, physical disability or mental illness.

Building a welcoming and inclusive work environment promises to create a calmer, happier, innovative and productive organisation. The ultimate payoff is a positive impact on your bottom line.

If you are not convinced yet, don’t worry, we have put a list together of five ways in which diversity/inclusion initiatives can benefit your organisation.

Five reasons to implement diversity/inclusion initiatives

1.   Business sense/bottom line

The fundamental reason for undertaking diversity work is business-based. A well developed, managed and sustained diversity/inclusion process will have positive results on an organisation’s bottom line. In a working environment where employees understand each other, relationships are sound, and managers are capable and competent to manage diversity, there is heightened productivity, creativity and innovation.

2.   Attract high-level employees

In a market place where companies are searching for top talent – male and female, black and white and from different generations – those organisations which are inclusive and where the diversity of employees is valued will attract the top talent.

3.   Enables retention

It is said that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers, Employees at all levels will not stay where they do not feel valued. So retention also depends on creating an inclusive workplace. When diversity is understood and well managed the company is likely to attract and retain the top candidates.

4.   Improved team work

Many organisations depend on team work to achieve results, teams can only be created where employees really understand each other and acknowledge and work with differences. To build solid teams employees need to have an understanding of one another across all of their differences which include:

  • race
  • gender
  •  age
  • nationality
  • religion
  • dis/ability
  • culture

5.   Improved productivity

All of the above points combine together to impact positively on productivity and ultimately profitability. So the main reason to undertake effective diversity and inclusion work is to improve your organisation’s bottom line.

The business case for applying diversity/inclusivity programmes at organisations is therefore clear. While inclusivity is often seen as a set of “nice-to-have” processes or a legal and moral responsibility, a systematic and positive approach to managing diversity is imperative.

How can diversity/inclusivity programmes help?

If we acknowledge the need for creativity and innovation in building productivity and profitability we must acknowledge the imperative of managers learning to manage diversity and inclusion.

Diversi-T was founded in 1993 as a change management consultancy and human resource development and training organisation. Over the last 25 years we have made it our business to help organisations turn diversity into profitability. We have worked in countless public and private organisations where people have worked alongside each other for fifteen years without knowing one another’s names. It became evident, time and again, that building an inclusive organisation starts with having the kind of conversations and dialogues necessary to develop understanding of each other.

This is where focused programmes come in.

Strong, well-researched and appropriate programmes covering diversity and inclusion strengthen both the people- and business-sides of organisations. The process we use with organisations moves from creating awareness to actually imparting skills and competencies to managers and leaders. The ultimate goal is to make a long-lasting impact where inclusivity is not at the forefront of every activity but rather part of the soul of the organisation.

If you are concerned about your bottom line ask yourself, is my organisation an inclusive one where all employees whatever their race, gender, job level or category feel valued and can work optimally. If your answer is “no” then it is time to incorporate Diversity/Inclusion work.