Executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates surveyed 2,167 executives around the world to understand how how companies align themselves around diversity and inclusion (D&I). The findings were compiled into six steps that leaders can take to achieve D&I success:
Step 1: Agree on the meaning of D&I – Ensure that all executives understand the organisation’s definition of D&I so that they can act as informed advocates.
Many companies understand “diversity,” but struggle to grasp “inclusion” in concrete terms. Nearly half of executives (47%) state that their organisations have a clear, holistic definition of diversity, while less than a quarter (24%) are aware of a definition of inclusion.
Step 2: Develop a D&I strategy – In order to fully realise human capital benefits, such as increased employee engagement and creativity.
A majority of companies surveyed have established D&I strategies, but ownership is fragmented and best practices have not emerged – close to half (49%) say it is the CEO’s prerogative, while just under one-third (31%) believe the CHRO should take on this task.
Step 3: Publicly commit to D&I – Hold leadership accountable for results.
To get leaders on board, companies are moving beyond treating D&I as a compliance obligation and are instead broadcasting the commercial benefits it promises if truly embedded into the company’s DNA. Formal accountability mechanisms, such as adding D&I targets to leadership performance criteria, ensure that real progress is made over time.
Step 4: Use D&I to attract top talent – Demonstrating commitment to D&I helps attract candidates who are increasingly seeking out companies that “walk the walk.”
While 74% of executives view D&I as crucial to the success of their organisation, most do not take advantage of D&I to attract top talent. By failing to embed D&I into their talent strategy, they not only miss out on exceptional talent, but also on the benefits of diverse talent and an inclusive culture.
Step 5: Incorporate D&I into talent strategy – Processes to enable talent attraction, development and retention.
Although more than half of companies (53%) prioritise the hiring of diverse talent, significantly fewer are focused on retention (47%). Leaders must understand that while isolated efforts, such as hiring programs or flexible work arrangements, may get diverse employees through the door, the lack of an overarching process or strategy ultimately impedes talent attraction, development and retention.
Step 6: Lead by example – Personify the organisation’s D&I agenda and philosophy to influence others to do the same.
D&I strategy is most effective when leaders are visibly committed to D&I and modelling inclusive behaviours.
Images / Russell Reynolds Associates