Make Diversity And Inclusion A Priority For A Real Competiti...| MENAFN.COM

Wednesday, 01 February 2023 03:15 GMT

Make Diversity And Inclusion A Priority For A Real Competitive Edge

(MENAFN- Mid-East.Info)

By Sonia Tshabalala, Regional People Director, Sage AMEA

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have emerged as priorities for businesses worldwide. Despite the enormous strides made the reality is that we still have plenty of work to do before we can claim to have transformed our workforce and workplaces.

A recent Boston Consulting Group global study of 1,700 companies found that those with more diverse management teams have 19 per cent higher revenues on average due to enhanced innovation. At a broader economic level, it has been estimated that closing the gender gap would add $28 trillion to the value of the global economy by 2025 – a 26 per cent increase. Diversity and inclusion as it relates to youth in particular is often overlooked around the world, despite the fact that millennials are expected to make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. This is a hugely wasted opportunity, especially in the Arab world, where more than 60 per cent of the population today is under the age of 30.

Diversity helps to create a richness of ideas and innovation, giving an organisation insight into its market and customers. It should be about meeting employment equity targets and building a team that covers the full spectrum regarding socioeconomic background, religion, marital status, education, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, disability, and life experience.

What can HR and people teams do?

HR and People teams are the visible champions of diversity and inclusion, so they set the tone for the organisation. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace goes far beyond compliance or PR exercise. It means creating a genuinely fair and equal organisation where everyone has the same opportunities for professional development, career growth, and access to resources.

To do this, HR and People leaders must understand their organisation, people, and problems. It means having a committed leadership team, being prepared to have difficult conversations, and building trust with their workforce. Anything less, and people will see straight through you.

Here are five practical tips to get you started on your journey:

  • View diversity as an opportunity, not a tick-box exercise

    Treat diversity as an opportunity to create a company people want to work for, not a compliance or risk mitigation issue. This requires a complete review of your business. It might mean taking a long, hard look at the company culture to identify the behaviours, policies, and practices that lead to discrimination and inequality and then creating strategies to remedy the situation.

  • Establish trust with employees

    People from previously disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds often don't report discrimination for fear of victimisation. It's HR's job to build trust with them. Get to know your people, meet them, and cultivate relationships. Remember, not all diversity is visible. For example, there are many disabilities or mental health concerns you cannot see when you look at someone.

    Above all else, believe your people. It's hard to accept that racism, homophobia, xenophobia or sexual harassment is happening in your organisation; your first reaction might be one of disbelief. It's important to deal with reported incidents through the appropriate channels, even if this means having challenging conversations with far-reaching consequences.

    Not dealing with nor managing these issues poses a greater reputational risk to your business.

  • Use data to understand the make-up of your workforce

    Use analytics to ascertain how many people from different backgrounds are in your organisation. Much of this data will be available in employment equity reports for companies with more than 50 employees. But also dig into the data to understand nuances like how much people from different backgrounds are paid and how long they stay.

  • Don't sweep bias under the carpet

    It's never easy for employees to report discrimination; it can sometimes be difficult to prove, and employees may not want to be seen to cause conflict. Send an anonymous survey to all your workers asking if they have experienced or seen discrimination, bias or inequality in your organisation, and act on the results. If you struggle to talk about these issues openly, bring in an expert to help facilitate trusting spaces.

  • Target diverse populations in your recruitment process

    Actively seek workers from underrepresented groups by engaging with recruiters or organisations who specialise in diversity. At Sage, we work closely with recruitment organisations such as Godisanang and our charity partner, Lead Change Developments, to specifically target employees living with disabilities, for example. If your recruiters keep sending people with similar backgrounds, such as graduating from the same university or living in the same city, question them.

    Make people feel they belong

    To foster diversity and equality in your workplace, you need to make people feel like they belong, are respected, have a voice, and will be given equal opportunities. This is where the inclusion piece of the puzzle comes in; your workplace is diverse and offers an environment where all people, regardless of surface or hidden level differences, feel welcome and valued.

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